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No campaign body issues warning against "authoritarian" anti-misinformation legislation

Jarred Cross -

Voice to Parliament no campaign spearheads Advance Australia have shifted focus to go after proposed laws to combat false information spreading online, which they claim is a tactic to 'silence' pockets of the public.

According to reports, the body fronted by anti-Voice figures Warren Mundine and Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price during Voice debate, recently distributed an email encouraging supporters to back their fight against the Government's Communications Legislation Amendment Bill.

The proposed bill would position the Australian Communications and Media Authority to oversee and enforce practices to help stop the spread of misinformation and disinformation; including code-of-practice measures to be created by online platforms.

ACMA could intervene to establish their own code of practice.

Fines could be issued to platforms who do not comply with the rules set.

ACMA could be made able to gather information and obtain records of mis- and disinformation but could not request specific posts and material be removed, per the Government's fact sheet on the bill.

Private instant messages sent between users would also not be within its scope.

The amendment's have already drawn criticism for being too vague and toeing the line on censorship.

In late August, the Law Council of Australia called the exposure draft bill "overly broad, uncertain, and may have serious unintended consequences".

Shadow Communications Minister David Coleman has said the Government should "rip it up", and on October 18 labelled the legislation "appalling".

Advance Australia said the bill represents something "totalitarian", "despotic" and "un-Australian", according to The Australian.

The group has been accused by the Yes campaign of creating misinformation around the Voice.

"You and I destroyed their divisive agenda…even so, they are ­regrouping," Mr ­Sheahan said, via The Australian.

"Why do you think they're already talking about new laws to make misinformation a crime?

"They think the only way they can win is if they silence their ­opponents."

The email is understood to have included a link to an open letter on Advance Australia's website.

According to the group, more than 30,000 people have signed to 'stop Labor, The Greens and the Teals' 'Ministry of Truth' controlling you'.

'If our government is allowed to censor what can and can't be said, our democracy dies,' the webpage reads above the prompt to sign.

'No politician should restrict the right of citizens like you to hear ALL sides of the story.

'But right now, Labor, the Greens and the Teals are planning a new law to let the government decide what's 'true' and what's not.'

Advance Australia claims the legislation threatens "unfair criminal convictions".

'Faceless bureaucrats and big tech will decide what's true and what isn't – but how can they decide who's telling the truth and who's lying?

'The truth is – they can't,' the webpage reads.

'We already know the 'fact checkers' get it wrong all the time. It's a disgrace. And these laws will make it worse.

'Legitimate points of view will be silenced. Social media posts hidden. Signs pulled down. Australians on trial for stating their beliefs.'

Advance Australia say they are urging MPs to stop the 'authoritarian power grab' and protect free speech and powers of debate.

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