Senate debates

Friday, 17 November 2023

Questions without Notice

Middle East

2:48 pm

Photo of Murray WattMurray Watt (Queensland, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) Share this | Hansard source

Yes, I would agree that foreign interference through social media has the types of effects that you're talking about. That is one of the reasons why, at this very moment in time, the government is preparing legislation around misinformation. I can't remember whether you've commented on this, Senator Van, but I know there have been many speakers on that side of the chamber who have queried the need or the government's motivation in relation to that misinformation legislation, but it's exactly to deal with the types of issues you're talking about. We are seeing greater levels of foreign interference, including on social media, spreading factually baseless information—things that are just straight-out wrong—and, again, inflaming social tensions. We regard espionage and foreign interference as Australia's principal security concern. More Australians are being targeted for espionage and foreign interference than at any time in Australia's history. We need to work harder on this, and that's exactly why we're taking the types of actions I've been going through.


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