Misinformation Bill

Misinformation Bill Slow-Walk: Only 330 of 23,000 Submissions Published

27 September 2023

3.4 MINS

The extent of backlash to the Misinformation Bill will only be clear by 2026, if the Government keeps delaying the release of submissions.

After multiple delays, the Albanese Government has begun publishing submissions to its controversial ‘Misinformation Bill’ — but at such a slow pace that would only see the full catalogue released by June 2026.

Shadow Communications Minister David Coleman has highlighted reports that a staggering 23,000 public submissions and comments have been made in response to Labor’s ‘Communications Legislation Amendment (Combatting Misinformation and Disinformation) Bill 2023’.

The Albanese Government had originally committed to releasing the submissions “after August 20”. The Department of Infrastructure website was then quietly edited to say submissions will be uploaded “in several tranches from early September”.

By early September, still no submissions had appeared on the website. Finally, 150 were made available on September 15, followed by another 178 a week later. That brings the number of submissions released to 328, or just over 1% of the reported total of 28,000.

With an average of only 164 submissions published per week, it will take the Albanese Government over 140 weeks — or 2 years and 8 months — to publish the full set of public submissions. At such a pace, Australians will have to wait until June 2026 to have a full understanding of the public backlash to Labor’s contentious bill.

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts is yet to respond to The Daily Declaration’s inquiries about the slow-walk release of the submissions.

Over 90% Opposition to the Misinformation Bill: Analyst

An analysis of the first tranche of 150 submissions found that the overwhelming majority — 91% — were “strongly opposed” to the proposed legislation.

Author and political analyst Crispin Rovere posted his analysis to X, formerly Twitter, soon after the first tranche was released. Of those 150 submissions, he found that 5 were irrelevant to the topic, 4 expressed a neutral viewpoint, 3 were supportive with amendments, 2 were unequivocally supportive, and a staggering 136 were strongly opposed to the bill.

If the first tranche was a representative sample of public sentiment, it suggests that some 20,000 Australian individuals, businesses and organisations took the time to tell the Government to abandon its Orwellian legislation.

Rovere’s analysis supports David Coleman’s repeated claim that the Albanese Government’s bill is deeply unpopular with the Australian public.

“There has clearly been a wave of opposition to this deeply flawed Misinformation Bill, but we still don’t know what is contained in these submissions. There is no excuse for the submissions still being secret,” Mr Coleman said in a media release.

Appeals for Accountability from the Opposition

Mr Coleman has written to Federal Information Commissioner Angelene Falk, asking her to report on the Government’s delay in publishing the submissions made by the Australian public.

In his letter to Ms Falk, Mr Coleman wrote:

I am concerned about the Government’s handling of information related to public submissions on the Misinformation Bill. In my view, the conduct of the Government in relation to this matter clearly triggers the provisions of s.7 (a)(i) [of the Australian Information Commissioner Act], and should be a matter that your office investigates.

It is clearly in the public interest for these submissions to be released, so that everyone can understand the views of Australians on this critical issue.

Ms Falk has yet to respond publicly to Mr Coleman’s request.

Will the Misinformation Bill Be Justified by a Failed Referendum?

Government attempts to silence so-called “misinformation” online has regularly been tied to the upcoming Voice referendum by supporters and detractors of both initiatives.

Zali Steggal, teal MP for the Sydney seat of Warringah, made such a connection when earlier this month she wrote on X:

Leading Yes campaigner Professor Megan Davis has likewise claimed the Uluru Statement has been “distorted and weaponised by a no campaign that has no alternative and is intent on misinformation and division”.

Speaking during Question Time last November, Prime Minister Albanese claimed “there’s been a lot of misinformation already out there” about the Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

As recently as this month, Andrea Carson, a professor of political communication at La Trobe University, told the Sydney Morning Herald:

Maybe the referendum is a test case of how hard you can run with disinformation and misinformation. And it’s not just Facebook and Twitter any more, it’s TikTok, it’s Reddit and there is this proliferation of platforms. I think we are in a new era of campaigning.

Such characterisations have prompted dissenters to speculate whether the Albanese Government will use an unsuccessful Voice referendum to justify its otherwise-disfavoured Misinformation Bill.

X user Chris Baxter, for example, suggests the Albanese Government is “slow playing the Misinformation Bill so they can make an emergency case for it, when the failure of the YES campaign is blamed on misinformation.” He added that Labor “won’t be able to get sufficient support for the Misinformation Bill unless the public can be convinced that a great injustice has occurred”.

The Libertarian Party, formerly the Liberal Democrats, likewise took to X to express similar suspicions.

“This is the beginning of what the Libertarian Party has been warning about for months,” they wrote.

“When the Voice fails on 14 October, Yes supporters will blame ‘disinformation’ from the No side for the loss. This will be used to justify pushing through the ACMA Bill.”

Only time will tell if these suspicions are correct.

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Image via Unsplash.

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2 Comments

  1. Jim Twelves 27 September 2023 at 8:47 am - Reply

    Kurt, this is a most important piece, thank you so much. It shines a light on the dark schemes of the destructive and divisive left. I trust that many will read and understand that the left have no leg left to stand on.

  2. Countess Antonia Maria Violetta Scrivanich 28 September 2023 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    Frightening scenario for Australians who believe in Liberty. The Albanese govt. will stoop at nothing to prevent Australians learning the truth about the censorship, fines , and jail which will be imposed on anyone who dares to oppose the stated govt. “Truth ” which we and our unfortunate children will be forced to believe by indoctrination set by the State school syllabus . We will become powerless to oppose and remove the one-Party State like in China ,Russia , Hong Kong, etc.

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