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Is This the End of Free Speech in Australia?

“As always, the term is so broadly defined and so nebulous that no one will know if they are guilty of hate or not.”


Over recent years many have rightly noted how George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 has moved from the fiction shelves to the non-fiction shelves. And many have also rightly noted that all the so-called fact-checkers utilised by the big, woke media and tech giants are little more than truth attackers.

And when governments get in on the action, we have descended into a very frightening abyss indeed. New proposed legislation by the Federal Government is bringing us the best (worst) of both worlds: Orwell’s Ministry of Truth and the tech giants’ modern-day book burnings.

Those familiar with Orwell’s 1949 novel will recall that there were four ‘ministries’ in the Oceania dictatorship: the Ministry of Truth, the Ministry of Peace, the Ministry of Love, and the Ministry of Plenty. The first one famously had these three slogans emblazoned on the exterior of its large headquarters: “WAR IS PEACE,” “FREEDOM IS SLAVERY,” and “IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.”

The complete control of information, the rewriting of history, the monopoly on media, and being the sole arbiter of what is truth, are all hallmarks of any totalitarian dictatorship of the past, and of those wanting to go down the same path today.

That is why some newly proposed legislation is so very frightening. We have seen book burnings last century. We have seen “fact-checkers” and the suppression of alternative points of view with the Covid wars just recently. We already know what a secular left war on truth looks like, and to have it now about to be enshrined in federal legislation is a bridge too far.

The draft Communications Legislation Amendment (Combatting Misinformation and Disinformation) Bill 2023 can be read here.

One write-up says this about the legislation:

Australia is proposing to fine digital platforms millions of dollars if they allow harmful misinformation and disinformation online. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) would be the regulating body, according to draft legislation, the Communications Legislation Amendment (Combating Misinformation and Disinformation) Bill 2023, now open for public consultation.

Fines of up to $6.88 million or 5% of global turnover could be imposed. The draft framework focuses on systemic issues which pose a risk of harm on digital platforms. It does not empower the ACMA to determine what is true or false or to remove individual content or posts. The code and standard-making powers will not apply to professional news content or authorised electoral content.

Platforms will continue to be responsible for the content they host and promote to users. If platforms fail to act to combat misinformation and disinformation over time, ACMA would be able to draw on its reserve powers to register enforceable industry codes with significant penalties for non-compliance.

So many questions arise here. Will a “digital platform” be defined broadly enough that a church with a website, a Christian radio station, or even a website like mine means that we will be included? We might think that only tech giants will be in view here. Even if only these are included, will a more conservative platform then be at risk for not going along with the State-ordained definition of truth and what is harmful?

Speaking of something being harmful, the definition of “harm” found here is frightening enough. One “type of harm” is this: “Hatred against a group in Australian society on the basis of ethnicity, nationality, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion or physical or mental disability.” An example of “serious harm” is this: “Misinformation about a group of Australians inciting other persons to commit hate crimes against that group.”

Is this problematic? Let me count the ways:

A. As always, the term is so broadly defined and so nebulous that no one will know if they are guilty of hate or not.

B. As always, it is the secular left activists who are pushing for such laws, and it will be these folks who will use them to the max.

C. As always, these laws are all one-way traffic. The group most hated on in the country is the Christian community, but legislation like this will NOT be used to protect them – it will be used to further discriminate against them.

D. As always, harm and “hate speech” is in the eye of the beholder. In this case, we will have the secular left State deciding this. We already know what they mean by these terms. If a Christian, for example, says that Jesus is the only way to heaven, or only heterosexual married sex is morally licit, then they will immediately be in the PC cross-hairs.

E. As always, just one of the terms, “sexual orientation” is so very open-ended that if a platform features concerned parents not wanting their children taken away from them and be mutilated for life as in the trans scenarios, they could be punished with a 7 million dollar fine.

Many concerned folks have already sounded the alarm on this. Victorian Senator Ralph Babet for example said this:

I recently asked Minister Wong to explain why the Government attempted to censor the social media posts of democratically elected members of Parliament, specifically Craig Kelly and George Christensen. The Ministers response was both unsatisfactory and predictable.

To make matters worse the Government has also recently announced that it will attempt to expand upon the censorship of all Australians. They have released the draft of a proposed bill aimed at combatting ‘disinformation and misinformation’. This bill is a fatal blow for free speech and will impose MASSIVE fines for social media companies who allow content on their platforms that is deemed to be dis/mis information.

Who decides what is dis/mis information? The Government and the people who control what they do and say behind the curtain do. The same types of people who told you that Covid-19 mRNA vaccines were safe and effective and that Covid was deadly when it was in fact mild for almost 100 percent of healthy people.

This bill is dangerous. Free political speech is the bedrock of our society and I will fight to preserve this right. The Government should not be controlling speech. If we as a society are worried about dis/mis information then the best disinfectant is freedom of speech not more Government censorship.

And social commentator Caitlin Johnstone said this in part:

The problem with laws against inaccurate information is of course that somebody needs to be making the determination what information is true and what is false, and those determinations will necessarily be informed by the biases and agendas of the person making them….

When the government involves itself in the regulation of speech, it is necessarily incentivized to regulate speech in a way that benefits itself and its allies. Nobody who supports government regulation of online mis- and disinformation can articulate how such measures can be safeguarded in a surefire way against the abuses and agendas of the powerful. Under a Totalitarian Regime, your government censors your speech if you say unauthorized things. Under a Free Democracy, your government orders corporations to censor your speech if you say unauthorized things.

One helpful video on this is found here: 

Submissions from the public on this bill can be made:

The Department invites submissions by 11:59pm AEST, Sunday, 6 August 2023. Submissions may be lodged in the following ways:

Website: https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/have-your-say/acma-powers

Email: Information.Integrity@infrastructure.gov.au

Please do put in a submission.

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