Federal Parliament - COVID-19 vaccination

05 August 2021

Dr ALYYesterday in question time, the Prime Minister was asked about the member for Dawson's Facebook posts perpetuating vaccine disinformation. He was unable and unwilling to give any assurances that he would take action to stop this. Instead, he invoked the old chestnut of 'freedom of speech' and then had the gall to accuse Labor of contributing to vaccine hesitancy. In the Senate, Senator Birmingham was asked about Senator Rennick's endorsement of an article describing the vaccine as 'experimental gene therapy'. Again, he was unable to unequivocally give assurance that the Prime Minister and the government does not support the spreading of disinformation and misinformation by their own members.

Misinformation and disinformation is not a minor matter. It's a serious issue that is made even more serious in the midst of a global pandemic, where our only way out of lockdown and disruption is through vaccines. The member for Dawson regularly uses social media to undermine lockdowns and restrictions, as does Senator Rennick. Senator Canavan appeared on Steve Bannon's far-Right show War Room, criticising the public health advice of his own government.

This government doesn't have a counter-narrative strategy to combat disinformation and misinformation. It doesn't even have a communication strategy to improve the uptake of the vaccine. Show some leadership. Do better on this. It is dangerous.