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Interim report on all aspects of the conduct of the 2019 federal election and matters related thereto

Australian federal election 2019 Election campaigns Political corruption Elections Political campaigns Australia

Foreword by Senator the Hon. James McGrath, Committee Chair.

The recent explosion in growth of digital platforms has seen more Australians online than ever before. There is no doubt that the digital revolution has many benefits – connecting people and ideas are an important part of democracy. Yet the accelerated growth of many digital platforms presents governments around the world with an unprecedented challenge; how to balance freedom of speech whilst protecting citizens and institutions from the largely unregulated power of tech giants.

For Australia to remain vigilant, we must understand the threats and demand more from the digital platforms who have risen as global powers. Working with other parliaments is one way we can stand strong in the face of such powerful organisations. Parliamentarians are in a unique position as law-makers to create change – by working together we can find ways that protect Australians.

The International Grand Committee is an example of countries coming together to share, learn and ultimately create change for the better. The recommendations of this report are just the beginning of tackling the threat of foreign interference and disinformation. Of course, freedom must always be the guiding principle in driving decisions.

Key recommendations:

  • The Committee recommends that the Australian Government continue to support members of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters to participate in the International Grand Committee.
  • The Committee recommends that the Australian Government examine the feasibility and practicalities of enacting regulation similar to the new provisions in the Canada Elections Act which adds registry requirements for political advertisements on online platforms.
  • The Committee recommends that the Australia Government should make representations at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Pacific Island Forum; and the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum to open a formal dialogue on the introduction of a data protection regulation model for the region.
  • The Committee recommends that this delegation report be forwarded to the Select Committee on Foreign Interference through Social Media to consider as part of their inquiry.
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