Stand Up for Free Speech

3 May, 2024
Russell Broadbent here, your federal Member for Monash.

In the wake of the Bondi and Sydney Church stabbings, there’s been intense media attention and public discourse about the powers of our government to regulate social media.

I was mentioned on the 7am Podcast recently, which considered free speech in the context of social media platforms and the eSafety Commissioner’s so called ‘take down’ powers, specifically in regard to X’s refusal to remove the video of the Sydney Church stabbing.

Is this post confronting? Of course it is.

It breaks my heart that we live in a world where this kind of behaviour has become accepted as the norm.
But if distressing and confronting issues are not publicised and spoken about, what does that say about where this nation is heading?

I deeply fear for both ourselves, and for our future generations if this unelected eSafety Commissioner, and the Government of the day, can dictate what news the Australian people can and can’t see.

You might have missed it – but on 22 November 2023, the Minister for Communications announced the commencement of a statutory review into the operation of the Online Safety Act.

This Act, commenced in January 2022, introduced a regulatory framework to allegedly ‘improve and promote’ the safety of Australians online.

And it gives extremely broad powers to the eSafety Commissioner.

I fear that the truth, often classified as misinformation or disinformation (as is occurring in the case of X’s post of the Sydney Church stabbing), will be censored by the eSafety Commissioner in the name of ‘improving and promoting the safety of Australians.’

Where do we draw the line?

Alarmingly, this review will consider whether we need to give even more power to the eSafety Commissioner.

I urge you to have your say on the Online Safety Act by 5pm 21 June, which you can access through the following link: Statutory Review of the Online Safety Act 2021 | Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts.

If the Australian people don’t stand up for their freedoms now, they may never be able to again.

That’s justice as I see it.

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Russell Broadbent MP
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