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MisDis Bill Reloaded: Empowering truth Czars, Silencing Australians

Media reports suggest the Federal Government is barrelling ahead with the Communications Legislation Amendment (Combatting Misinformation and Disinformation) Bill 2023, despite widespread criticism from free speech advocates, including the ACL.

The ACL remains opposed to the Bill, as it is a fundamental intrusion on the freedom of speech. Should an alternative to the Bill emerge ACL will give it fair consideration, but the fundamental flaw of governmental ability to control what we say to each other must be addressed.

As it stands, the proposed Bill grants the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) the power to determine what qualifies as misinformation and disinformation, giving rise to an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth.” Similar laws in other jurisdictions have demonstrated that such legislation creates a chilling effect, leading to the removal of perfectly reasonable content due to uncertainty and fear of penalties.

Some have pointed to the recent tragic stabbing incidents in Sydney as justification for rushing this Bill through Parliament. However, there is no clear evidence linking these attacks to online content, and using these tragedies as a pretext is both misleading and disrespectful to the victims.

ACL calls on the Government and the Coalition to abandon their support for this misguided Bill and instead focus on protecting the rights of all Australians to engage in open, honest dialogue without fear of censorship. In a free society, the truth should emerge through robust public debate, not government-appointed “czars”.

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