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Wednesday, 13 September 2017
Page: 7104


Senator DASTYARI (New South WalesDeputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (11:34): I just have a follow-up point of clarification, because I thought that was quite a fair question. I think the point that Senator Bernardi is making on this is that, a lot of times in these kinds of situations, when we're dealing with social media and other matters, people can wrongly or inadvertently—and it's not their fault; we're all professional politicians; we follow the passage of laws; we're well aware of the Electoral Act and other matters—get themselves involved in the passing on of different bits of information without realising what the consequences of that are going to be. It's not their fault. There is a lot of material out there at the moment that, once the passage of this legislation occurs, would not comply with what we are looking at possibly passing today. That's not malicious—the rules were not in place.

I note that Senator Bernardi and others have created social media content. I have personally created social media content. It's a healthy part of the debate. People have created videos, memes or images to promote their cause and to explain things to different people, and they've gone out there and actively shared this type of information. I think the point that Senator Bernardi is making—and I think it's an important point of clarification—is that it's understandable that content producers, be they the marriage equality central campaign or larger political parties, would now be able to make sure that future material is authorised and they may even be able to deal with material that already exists. But, in this social media world, material has been created, which the content creators have now lost control of, and other people have taken and used it and are sharing it around the place. Minister, I understand how the act works, but the difference between the act and what we're addressing now is that, when we deal with election campaigns, because it is already in place, the material itself has normally been properly authorised by the content creators, be they political parties, larger organisations, trade union councils, minerals councils or whoever. But could you clarify for me whether people acting in good faith would be in breach of this legislation if next week some older material that didn't have the proper authorisation were to be shared?