By Paul Collits

Is the eSafety Commissioner – one Julie Inman Grant – coming for me?  Or you?  Well, she is coming for Elon Musk, threatening Twitter with $700,000 a day fine unless the company shows that it is countering online “hate”.

Like many, I had never heard of this person or her job until this week.  I wish I hadn’t.

As reported in The Guardian:

Australia’s eSafety commissioner says Twitter has “dropped the ball” on tackling online hate, labelling the site “a bin fire” as she issued a legal notice to the social media giant demanding an explanation about what it is doing about the scourge.

The commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, said there have been more complaints about online hate on Twitter in the past year than any other platform, and complaints have spiked since Elon Musk’s takeover of the company in October.

“We are seeing a worrying surge in hate online,” Inman Grant said. “Twitter appears to have dropped the ball on tackling hate.”

Perhaps not coincidentally, the week also saw the introduction of legislation by the pants-on-fire Albanese Government that has been described as “the most dangerous proposed legislation in our nation’s history”.  A big call.  George Christensen has called it “an Orwellian nightmare ahead”.  This is the Communications Legislation Amendment (Combatting Misinformation and Disinformation) Bill.

According to Craig Kelly:

Today would have been George Orwell’s (author of 1984 & Animal Farm) 120th birthday – he was born on 25th June 1903.

And Orwell’s birthday is the day the Albanese Government decided to announced proposed legislation to establish a MINISTRY OF TRUTH – legislation that would the government to spy on Australian’s social media posts and censor anything that the government deemed as “misinformation”. 

Before his death, Orwell gave a ‘final warning’, of the dangers of corporatism, socialism, authoritarianism, totalitarianism — any powerful -ism, essentially, in which we can find nasty, freedom-destroying implications, stating; 

“Allowing for the book, after all, being a parody, something like 1984 could actually happen

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face, forever,

“The moral to be drawn from this dangerous nightmare situation is a simple one: don’t let it happen. IT DEPENDS ON YOU.

What is this ministry of truth?  Well, it is the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).  George Christensen explains:

To combat ‘misinformation and disinformation,’ the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will be given extraordinary new powers¹ to compel Big Tech companies to quash anything that conflicts with the Official Narrative: basically, the truth. Truth is not our purview, it would seem. Outlandish penalties ranging between $2.75-to-$6.8 million dollars will be issued for violations of the proposed “code of practice.” This has not yet come to pass, but it is projected to be ratified by year’s end.

The proposed legislation would allow ACMA to be adjudicators and enforcers against “misinformation and disinformation” (usually the truth) on Big Tech platforms.

Here is what this would mean:

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) would be armed with the ability to require digital platforms to keep certain records about matters regarding misinformation and disinformation and turn them over when requested.

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said this would “essentially mean that the regulator is able to look under the hood of what the platforms are doing and what measures they are taking to ensure compliance”.

The ACMA would also be able to request the industry to develop a “code of practice” covering measures to combat misinformation.

Violating the code could result in penalties up to $2.75 million dollars or 2 per cent of global turnover — whichever is greater.

And lastly, the ACMA would be empowered to create and enforce its own industry standard.

Penalties for breaching the standards could see companies paying up to $6.8 million or 5 per cent of their global turnover.

The loudmouthed threats to Twitter by Julie Inman Grant this past week are merely a foretaste of what is to come.  Who gets to define what is mis- and disinformation?  This is THE question. 

Not the rational consumer of media.  No, it will be teenaged bureaucrats or those to whom they choose outsource the task.  Just as Peter Dutton’s Department (Home Affairs) actually did during Covid.  Inconvenient factual statements on social media about the Covid State’s vaccine lies were removed at the behest of the Canberra bureaucracy.  Outsourced.  Maybe to outfits like the appalling RMIT University/Australian Broadcasting Corporation collaborative ministry of truth (the so-called FactLab).  Outfits that don’t even bother concealing either their incompetence or their ideology.  And which have no exposure whatsoever to democratic accountability.

This is Australian democracy in the 2020s.  It is also Jacindarella writ large.  Remember her infamous proclamation during Covid?

We will continue to be your single source of truth. 

This is a takeover by the State of our rights to determine what we hear, what we believe, what we say.  It has nothing whatsoever to do with alleged hate speech.

We should all note the important differences between the eSafety Commissioner’s seemingly benign threats and the intent of the new legislation.  Julie was talking about “hate speech”, with a focus on Jews and gay groups as targets, things that, in principle, might (or might not) be justified on human rights-type grounds.  The proposed laws go much further than “hate speech”, and encompass so-called “mis- and disinformation”.  The latter is a different beast, and a huge step, that many observers are likely to have missed and which the perpetrators will hope we have missed. 

Of course, even “hate speech” is subject to victim group definition.  Is burning a rainbow flag, as Laurence Fox did recently in his back yard in Britain, hate speech?  Is Mark Latham pointing out what gay activists are up to in our schools hate speech?  The egregious Alex Greenwich thinks so, as his recent attempt to silence Latham through gay lawfare proves.  But it is still another step entirely to outlaw scientifically based but minority views about Covid “science”.  Not to mention other forms of dissidence against the State. 

Slippery slope arguments are, in contrast to some, entirely legitimate and appropriate. 

The last word goes to George Christensen:

The REAL “misinformation and disinformation” threat is Government sanctioned (“Safe and Effective,” Net Zero Carbon, Climate Crisis etc). Indeed, all truly harmful ‘misinformation and disinformation’ is disseminated by captured Legacy Media in subservience to our captured Government.

They both work in unison to slavishly advance the agendas imposed by a Transnational Corporatocracy that holds both these official apparatuses utterly captive. Our Government, and our media, is their Government and their media; and it will only govern and report according to the “narrative” that is required to advance their ruthless business objectives and prerogatives. It cares only for our ‘freedom of speech,’ insofar as it presents an impediment to their globalist agendas.

Freedom of speech is, indeed, at stake.  As many have argued, freedom of speech is the first and greatest freedom.  This all makes the earlier debates over 18C look like a suburban park picnic.  We are now in the territory of existential threats.  What we have witnessed during Covid would become permanent.  Forever.

If you are ever tempted to think, in a fit of false optimism, what else can they do to us?  Don’t.  They can always do much more.  The ACMA bill is but one example, but as an example of what demonic states can do to their citizens’ freedom, it couldn’t get much worse.

Paul Collits is an Australian freelance writer and independent researcher. He publishes widely across a number of Australia’s leading publications and has been one of the country’s single most cogent commentators throughout the Covid era. He has worked in government, industry and the university sector, and has taught at tertiary level in three different disciplines – politics, geography and planning and business studies. 

A collection of his writing published in A Sense of Place Magazine can be found here. He posts regularly on Substack here.