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The government regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, could soon have more powers under a proposed misinformation and disinformation bill put forth by the Albanese Government. 

The Communications Legislation Amendment (Combatting Misinformation and Disinformation) Act 2023 could see fines of 10,000 penalty units ($2.75 million currently) or 2 per cent of global turnover (whatever is greater) for corporations, or 2,000 penalty units ($0.55 million currently) for individuals who are non-compliant with registered code. 

Greater penalties await those deemed to be in non-compliance with the industry standard facing a maximum of 25,000 penalty units ($6.88 million currently) or 5 per cent of global turnover (whatever is greater) for corporations, or 5,000 penalty units ($1.38 million currently) for individuals.

According to the bill, misinformation is defined as information that is false, misleading or deceptive.

The devil will be in the detail and how the new laws, if passed, are enacted. During the recent Covid-19 pandemic, governments around the world conspired with tech giants to remove, suppress and even deplatform the accounts of experts whose views differed from the government line.  

Excluded content for misinformation purposes includes content produced in good faith for the purposes of entertainment, parody or satire, professional news content, but also all content produced by or authorised by commonwealth, state or territory governments or bodies recognised by the Commonwealth, a state or territory as an accreditor of educational institutions.

The bill outlines the potential harm caused by non-compliant content as hatred against a group in Australian society, the disruption of public order or society in Australia, or harm to the integrity of Australian democratic processes or the Commonwealth, state, territory or local government institutions, harm to the health of Australians, harm to the Australian environment, economic or financial harm to Australians.

What could a government determine as misinformation and would it depend on who is in power at the time? Could harming the Australian environment be as simple as discussing carbon in a non-demonising way? Or could harm to the integrity of a commonwealth, state or local government be pointing out corruption or misleading and deceptive behaviour?

Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP 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.”

Shadow Minister for Communications David Coleman raised some concerns about the new proposed law, noting, “This is a complex area of policy, and government overreach must be avoided.”

Public consultation will close on Sunday, August 6, with legislation to be introduced into Parliament later this year.

To find out more and have your say, visit

The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper 29 June 2023

This article appeared in The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper, 29 June 2023.


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