Shadow Minister for Communications, Transcript – Sky News Sharri

Subject: Labor’s Misinformation Bill



Sharri Markson: Well Communications Minister, Michelle Rowland says she’s considering changes to the Misinformation Bill and planning an overhaul. But it appears the Albanese Government is still pressing ahead with it. Let’s bring in now Shadow Communications Minister, David Coleman. David, welcome to the program. Does it surprise you that they haven’t just dropped this altogether, given there were 23,000 responses to this legislation and most of them were highly critical?

David Coleman: Oh Sharri, they should absolutely drop it. I mean, this thing is toxic. It was toxic on day one, and it’s toxic today. 23,000 people felt so strongly about it that they wanted to come out and express their concerns. And basically, what we saw on Sunday was Michelle Rowland tried to sort of slip out a little announcement to say, we’re going to take some things out, we’re going to improve the Bill, but we’re still going to progress on the Bill. I think to be frank, Sharri, they want us to just stop talking about it. They want this issue to die down a bit, but it’s not going to die down and we’re going to keep talking about it because it’s a shocking Bill and it must not proceed.

Sharri Markson: The main concern with the Bill among many is freedom of speech. Do you think her changes that she’s announced on Sunday go far enough to address this?

David Coleman: No, not at all. I mean, the main thing she announced on Sunday, Sharri, was she’s decided now that ACMA bureaucrats won’t get to decide whether religious beliefs are misinformation or not. Believe it or not, in the original Bill or in the Bill as we still have it, religious beliefs were captured. The Government exempted comedians from the Bill, but not Australians expressing profoundly held religious beliefs. And the Minister, four months later has worked out, might have not been such a great idea to do that. But that’s about all she said on Sunday. I mean, the fundamental problem here is, this is going to capture thousands of things that Australians say every day. They might be saying they’re going to exempt statements about religious belief, but what about political belief? I mean, so many things that Australians believe in, that Australians say about politics could be captured by this Bill and that is not the sort of country that we live in. And it’s absolutely wrong.

Sharri Markson: And this legislation would come on top of the tech giant’s regulation already, which is so restrictive and has deemed very important stories like the Hunter Biden laptop and the origin of COVID and even criticism about mandates during the pandemic. All of those have been labelled misinformation. David, very quickly, one of the other problems about the legislation is that people could be fined $8,000 a day for every day they fail to turn up to ACMA to account for their misinformation. Do you think that the Government will remove this?

David Coleman: They absolutely must do that Sharri. I mean, they must throw the whole thing out. This is incredible. So if you are accused of a serious crime in Australia, you generally do not have to answer questions, the right to silence and so on. If you’re accused of misinformation under this Bill, there is no right to silence. You’ve got to show up where the Government tells you to show up and if you don’t show up to answer those allegations of misinformation, you can be fined more than $9,000 per day. Now, what sort of government does that?

Sharri Markson: Unbelievable.

David Coleman: It is just incredible, Sharri.

Sharri Markson: All right, David Coleman, thank you very much for your time.