Institute of Public Affairs Submission to the Inquiry Into Civics Education, Engagement, and Participation in Australia

Written by:
24 May 2024
Institute of Public Affairs Submission to the Inquiry Into Civics Education, Engagement, and Participation in Australia - Featured image

The purpose of this letter is to provide research and analysis conducted by the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (“the Committee”) as it conducts its inquiry into civics education, engagement, and participation in Australia. In particular, the IPA seeks to respond to the following terms of reference in this submission:

  • the vast array of informal mechanisms through which Australians seek and receive information about Australia’s democracy, electoral events, and voting; and how governments and the community might leverage these mechanisms to improve the quality of information and help Australians be better informed about, and better participate in, the electoral system;
  • the mechanisms available to assist voters in understanding the legitimacy of information about electoral matters; the impact of artificial intelligence, foreign interference, social media and mis- and disinformation; and how governments and the community can prevent or limit inaccurate or false information influencing electoral outcomes.

The terms of reference for this inquiry are specifically relevant to recent IPA research into the Draft Communications Legislation Amendment (Combatting Misinformation and Disinformation) Bill 2023 and similar proposals, Australian fact checking organisations, and foreign interference legislation in Australia.

  1. The federal government’s misinformation laws are an illiberal attack on freedom of speech that would undermine free and fair elections.
  2. Fact checking organisations which have proven themselves to be biased would be drastically empowered under the government’s proposed misinformation legislation.
  3. Legislation intended to combat foreign interference in Australian politics has empowered bureaucrats to target Australians because of their political beliefs.

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