Will A new law kill free speech and democracy in Australia ?

Posted by freedomforall 1 month ago to Government
3 comments | Share | Flag

"By Augusto Zimmermann, Professor and Head of Law at Sheridan Institute of Higher Education in Australia, President of WALTA – Legal Theory Association, and former Law Reform Commissioner with the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia

A new law is about to kill free speech and democracy in Australia

The Australian Government has recently introduced in Parliament a new law proposal to ban officially unapproved online content. Digital companies are expected to adopt a code of conduct which will see them censor speech based on broad, vague and far-reaching directives.

The Communications Legislation Amendment (Combating Misinformation and Disinformation) Bill 2023 foreshadows the imposition of a legal obligation on digital platforms to police alleged ‘misinformation’ and ‘disinformation’. If that does not work, the law proposal provides for the full empowerment of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to directly intervene for the purpose of preventing ‘harm’.

Section 2 of the proposed legislation defines ‘harm’ as follows:

(a) hatred against a group in Australian society on the basis of ethnicity, nationality, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion or physical or mental disability;

(b) disruption of public order or society in Australia;

(c) harm to the integrity of Australian democratic processes or of Commonwealth, State, Territory or local government institutions;

(d) harm to the health of Australians;

(e) harm to the Australian environment;

(f) economic or financial harm to Australians, the Australian economy or a sector of the Australian economy.

The concept of ‘harm’ peddled by the bill is illusory, and its content would be subjectively determined by a powerful government agency. The definition of what is and what isn’t harm is malleable and can expand and contract depending on ACMA’s prevailing views. Ultimately, any type of speech with which the government is uncomfortable could be deemed ‘harmful’. For example, describing “disrupting social order” as serious harm could be interpreted to stop the organization of legitimate political protests. This could certainly be used to suppress legitimate political speech that should be part of a functioning democracy.

Above all, ACMA would gain sweeping powers to require any person to appear at a time and place of its choosing to answer questions about misinformation or disinformation. These powers include infringement notices, remedial directions, injunctions and civil penalties, including fines of up to AU$550,000 (US$358,000) for individuals and AU$2.75 million for corporations. Criminal penalties, including imprisonment, may also apply in cases of alleged “extreme harm.”"
SOURCE URL: https://www.rt.com/news/586569-free-speech-democracy-australia/

Add Comment


All Comments Hide marked as read Mark all as read

  • Posted by VetteGuy 1 month ago
    I used to think Australia would be an interesting place to visit. But lately, every article I read about it lowers my opinion even further.
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by 1 month ago
      To visit, still yes, and much more appealing than NYC, SF, Chi, LA, Atlanta and many other cities in the US.
      I once wanted to live in Australia, but no longer.
      Their politicians are just as bad as the looters in the US,
      and lacking a Bill of Rights, especially the 2nd Amendment,
      there is little to protect individuals from them.
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  


  • Comment hidden. Undo