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  • Writer's pictureHannah Phillips

AEC combating disinformation ahead of The Voice referendum

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has taken a significant step towards combating disinformation by launching a Referendum Disinformation Register. This register is aimed at debunking misinformation about the particulars of the Referendum on the Indigenous voice to Parliament.

The proposed Indigenous voice to Parliament aims to alter the constitution with a proposed law to recognise ‘the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.’

Proposed Amendment to the Constitution

Chapter IX Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples 129 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice

In recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia:

1: There shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice;

2: The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to the Parliament and the Executive Government of the Commonwealth on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;

3: The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws with respect to matters relating to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, including its composition, functions, powers and procedures.

The AEC website says “In line with the AEC’s role, the disinformation register will focus solely on harmful disinformation relating to the process of conducting referendums. Citizens have the right to express views about democratic events that are a contest of ideas - the AEC does not restrict those freedoms.”

Flow FM morning show host Wayne Phillips raised concerns about the AEC’s role as a moderator.

“You'd hope that the AEC is completely independent of any pressure from any particular body when it comes to the discussion and the tactics that are used.”
“Fact checkers often say that they're trying to stop disinformation, but disinformation from what angle? I mean, if you're on one side, then the other side's disinformation. If you're on the other side, then it's disinformation.”

According to the AEC website, “the AEC will run an advertising campaign encouraging voters to carefully ‘stop and consider’ information they receive regarding the proposed Constitutional amendment, it is not the AEC’s role to moderate ‘yes’ or ‘no’ campaigning.”

Wayne Phillips said, “I don't know whether the Electoral Commission are really going to be able to say what is disinformation.”


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