Australians can think for themselves

4 September, 2023

I can't believe that the government of the day, with this misinformation-disinformation bill, will not allow the Australian people to think for themselves.

Do you think the Australian people are incapable of thinking through what is right and what is wrong in what they hear? They've done it for thousands of years. They've done for 200 years here, since the arrival of the First Fleet. They've done it throughout world history. People have sorted through what is misinformation and disinformation. Some of that proved to be absolutely correct. It was claimed to be misinformation, and it wasn't. It happened to be the truth, and any scholars, like those sitting opposite, would know that that is the case from history.

But don't listen to me. Listen to the Human Rights Commissioner, Lorraine Finlay, in an unprecedented intervention—and I know it is because I've been on the human rights committee of this parliament on a number of occasions and I'm currently deputy chair. So I know when there's an unprecedented intervention, and this is an unprecedented intervention by the Australian Human Rights Commissioner. What on? On the misinformation and disinformation bill.

This is what the highly respected Australian Human Rights Commissioner said. Lorraine Finlay warned that 'Labor's proposed laws to combat online misinformation could undermine democracy, erode public trust and jeopardise free speech'. Can that be any clearer? I'll read it again in case you missed it or you're being treated by this government in such a way that you can't think for yourself. I'll just read it again. She says, 'This bill could undermine democracy, erode public trust and jeopardise free speech.'

That's a big call, and she's spot on.

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Russell Broadbent MP
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