By John Stapleton

Australia has long been a democracy in name over, with a passing parade of shrills posing as politicians parading before an ever increasingly disenchanted public.

Now, on what would have been George Orwell’s 120th anniversary, the Australian government, led by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, has announced arguably their most dangerous legislation yet; an “up yours” to any notion of freedom of expression.

Either the authorities were too dumb to check, or live in a realm beyond arrogance, but the coincidence of the Newspeak style crackdown on what bureaucrats deem “misinformation” is a nod to the poet of totalitarianism and the most quoted author of the 2020s, George Orwell; a tribute to his prophetic novel 1984 from the Upside Down World once known as Australia.

What Craig Kelly says: Big Brother is Coming

Craig Kelly, who became one of the most reviled politicians in Australia because of his stance against the Covid panic and the era of mass indoctrination it ushered in, has been completely vindicated. Everything he said, everything he argued, turned out to be true. History has a funny way of sorting out the truthsayers from the liars.

Of the proposed legislation he writes: “Big Brother is coming. This proposed legislation would establish a Ministry of Truth.

“The Government regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority would become the ‘arbiter of truth’, with the ability to censor anything on social media that contradicted the government’s narrative.

“We have already seen the Department of Health and the Department of Home Affairs misuse and abuse similar powers. Likewise AMCA can’t be trusted given their track-record of climate alarmism.

“In a free nation, you cannot have government bureaucrats arbitrarily deciding what’s ‘misinformation’.”

“This proposed legislation tramples on free speech. It goes in the wrong direction.

“We need laws to protect free speech, to ensure that foreign Tech giants can no longer censor the proceedings of the Australian Parliament, and that they can no longer influence Australian elections by blacklisting & deplatforming candidates.

“If its lawful to say something on a soapbox in the town square it should be unlawful to for Big Tech to censor it online.

“The United Australia Party will fight against this frightening attack on free speech. This proposed law to establish a Ministry of Truth is what you’d expect if there was a fascist or communist takeover – or what you’d read about in a George Orwell novel.”

You can read the bill for yourself here.

What the Government says

Under historic new legislation proposed by the government, digital platforms could face penalties of up to $6.88m for failing to address systemic disinformation and misinformation.

The government has released a draft framework to empower the Australian Communications and Media Authority to hold digital platforms responsible for misleading or deliberately deceptive information online.

Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland said the proposed legislation was aimed at protecting Australians from the growing threat. More

“Mis and disinformation sows division within the community, undermines trust, and can threaten public health and safety,” she said.

“The Albanese Government is committed to keeping Australians safe online, and that includes ensuring the ACMA has the powers it needs to hold digital platforms to account for mis and disinformation on their services.”

The Communications Legislation Amendment (Combating Misinformation and Disinformation) Bill would give the media regulator greater powers to act on systemic issues.

For the first time, the ACMA would be empowered to access documents from digital providers related to misinformation and disinformation on their platforms.

The proposed authority would not extend to the content of private messages sent online.

The bill targets endemic misinformation and disinformation issues which pose a serious harm to Australians, and it would allow the ACMA to fight continued noncompliance from digital providers.

If platforms allow the spread of harmful lies and propaganda to continue, the regulator would be able to register enforceable industry codes with a maximum penalty of $2.75m or 2 per cent of a company’s global turnover (whichever is greater).

Should the code of practice prove insufficient, the ACMA would be able to implement an industry standard which would carry maximum penalties of $6.88m or 5 per cent of global turnover.

The proposed powers would apply to digital platforms accessible in Australia, including search engines, social media sites, dating sites, and web forums.

The ACMA would be focused on encouraging services to implement strong systems to tackle misinformation and disinformation rather than regulating specific content.

Unlike the eSafety Commissioner, the regulator would not have the authority to request the removal of posts or content.

The proposed legislation enacts key measures recommended in the 2021 ACMA report on the adequacy of digital platform measures to combat disinformation.

Public consultation on the draft bill will begin on Sunday and conclude on August 6, with the legislation to be introduced later this year.

“This consultation process gives industry and the public the opportunity to have their say on the proposed framework, which aims to strike the right balance between protection from harmful mis and disinformation online and freedom of speech,” Ms Rowland said.

“I encourage all stakeholders to make a submission and look forward to introducing the Bill into parliament later this year, following the consultation process”.

What Sky News Australia says

The Albanese government is heading into “dangerous territory” by announcing laws, planning to fine tech giants millions if they don’t remove misinformation from their platforms, says Sky News host Sharri Markson.

Ms Markson said these are “Orwellian-style” laws which will give a government entity the power to control freedom of speech and censor content they decide is “untrue, false or misleading”. “A government entity cannot be allowed to decide what is misinformation,” Ms Markson said. “They do not have first-hand contact with sources like journalists do.

“This is extremely dangerous territory for the government.”


What A Sense of Place Magazine has had to say so far

This step straight into a totalitarian abyss is mind boggling any way you look at it.

And comes in the wake of explosive revelations over the Australian government’s active suppression of correct information during the Covid era.

Which in itself came after years of increasing censorship, control of mainstream media and strangling regulation targeting journalists. Once seen as the gate keepers of freedom, media operators have been reduced to little more than stenographers, while the once proudly independent media outlets they worked for have become nothing more than channels for government propaganda.

Here are links to three stories we published on that particularly outrageous scandal.

Thanks to tranches of legislation passed during the so-called “War on Terror”, justifying a massive expansion in state control, the nation’s intelligence agencies can and no doubt in many cases do legally place the country’s journalists under surveillance, and know already their political leanings, their willingness to regurgitate government messaging or whether they sneak a joint on Friday after work.

Indeed, as he pursues agendas which have an uncanny resemblance to the obsessions of the Davos billionaires and little to do with the concerns of ordinary working people mired in the challenges of daily life, “Albanese Overseasy” will benefit from the fact that the authorities know almost everything there is to know about Australia’s journalists; once the nation’s conscience, now little more than government propagandists.

The lazy top-down style of journalism which now characterises Australia’s mainstream media, a politician said this, an “expert” said that, does not reflect the lived reality, and any government apparatchik who pretends it does is lying.

Australian democracy has suffered greatly as a result of the defanging of the nation’s media.

Now we are all in a combat zone. One can only hope, or pray, that the truth will win out.

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