House debates

Monday, 22 February 2021

Statements by Members

COVID-19: Vaccination

1:54 pm

Photo of Tim WattsTim Watts (Gellibrand, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Communications and Cyber Security) Share this | | Hansard source

I was very pleased to see Professor Rhonda Stuart become the first Victorian to receive a COVID-19 vaccine today. The success of this vaccine rollout is the most important endeavour confronting the nation at the moment, so it's important that we're all on 'team Australia' in this effort. But, when politicians don't listen to the government's expert medical advisers, they expose themselves to the risk of being gulled by foreign disinformation campaigns seeking to undermine our national fight against COVID-19. In the age of social media and at a time when the government's failure to land a workable media bargaining code has left Facebook bereft of authoritative news content, there has never been a better time to be a useful idiot. Sharing sensationalist disinformation is great for your Facebook reach, and there's no shortage of foreign governments fuelling the fire.

Indeed, a review of the member for Hughes's Facebook page since the start of the pandemic shows dozens of posts based on false narratives that the Australian Strategic Policy Institute has identified as being amplified by foreign disinformation campaigns, mostly backed by Russia. Most concerning are the narratives the member for Hughes has been sharing about 'the great reset' and the role that Bill Gates has in a global cabal to roll out mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations, including the extraordinary claim that Bill Gates says everyone has to get his vaccination even though the vast majority of the world already has immunity from COVID-19. This is rubbish. The member for Hughes does this because Facebook's algorithms encourage him to and because the Prime Minister enables him to do it. It's time we all got on team Australia, stopped sharing Russian disinformation about COVID-19 and got the vaccination. (Time expired)