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Australian Disinformation Wonderland: The Federal Election 2022

All elections are filled with the half-truths, mistruths and full-fledged lies. Victory is rarely bought on a platform of complete honesty. But the road to the current Australian federal election has been potholed by more deception than most. This is bound to happen when policy platforms are weak and rickety, leaving the opponents large scope to undermine each other. The personal prevails over the substantive; ideas play little to no role.

Much of the influence of misinformation and its more aggressive twin, disinformation, is given a legendary status ahead of time. Commentaries abound about how to spot “fake news” from outlets that have themselves been prone to promote counterfeit material.

A study commissioned by digital security and privacy company Avast filled electors with little confidence about either the content of news or their talents in spotting irregularities and fictions. 38 per cent of those surveyed revealed they were not confident in identifying fake news online. The age group between 18-24 were said to be the least confident.

Misinformation has a tendency to multiply and amplify in the wildfire environs of the Internet. “In recent research,” claimed Avast security expert Stephen Ko, “our AI team found that 17.9 per cent of hyperlinks of misinformation sites link to other misinformation domains. If users visit a misinformation site, the risk is higher that they end up in a rabbit hole of misinformation sites.” His advice, resembling those cautionary words of an impatient parent to an inattentive child, is to check such matters as the publication date. News should, he remarked, be “current”.

The Australian Electoral Commission has also gone out on a limb in establishing what it calls a “disinformation register”. Doing so comes with a caveat. “The AEC is not the arbiter of truth regarding political communication and does not seek to censor political debate in any way.” A fine objective, except that the AEC is also authoritative in pointing out that, “when it comes to the election process we conduct, we’re the experts and we’re active in defending Australia’s democracy.”

A list of “prominent pieces of disinformation” follows, though the actual source is not overly specific beyond the platform. The first example: “The AEC has sent multiple copies of unsolicited postal votes to a single voter proving voter fraud occurs.” The unsurprising source: Facebook.

Others include claims that First Nations people “have been wiped from the electoral roll without their knowledge”; that applications for postal votes “are being submitted and processed for deceased Australians” and “Dominion voting machines will be used and will be ‘rigged’ to favour one of the major political parties.” That old favourite – that the AEC is itself politically aligned – also features.

Various ethnic groups have been the subject of interest in disinformation strategies. The ABC has reported instances of Liberal Party supporters using the WeChat platform to spread falsehoods about a number of Labor supporters and critics of the Morrison government.

Not to be outdone, some Labor supporters have targeted the incumbent Liberal member for the seat of Chisholm, Gladys Liu, the first ethnic Chinese woman to serve a term in the House of Representatives. According to a Facebook page hosted by an ALP branch located in the Queensland electorate of Wright, Liu’s loyalties were malodorously suspect. A post from April 19 insinuated that Liu was potentially linked to a Chinese plot to infiltrate the Australian parliament.

A particularly aggressive campaign of media disinformation has also blown through some seats where independents are running against threatened incumbents. Earlier this month, the New South Wales electorates of Mackellar, Warringah and Hughes woke up to a number of posters with independent candidates branded with the Greens logo. A statement from the Greens leader Adam Bandt made much of the deception, suggesting that there was “a good chance that whoever is behind this has also committed a criminal act.”

In the Melbourne electorate of Kooyong, a simmering campaign alleging the hidden allegiances of independent Monique Ryan has also been marked by the stain of inaccuracy and mistruth. Stickers have emerged at points claiming that a vote for Ryan is a vote for Labor. This has not been helped by an aggressive campaign waged by the Liberal Party and the Murdoch-News Corp cheer squad alleging much the same thing.

Zoe Daniels, running against the Liberal Party’s Tim Wilson in the Victorian seat of Goldstein, expressed dismay in a tweet about voting strategies set to undermine her candidacy. “In a new low, ‘people’ on social media are spreading the lie that it’s only necessary to mark me number 1 for the vote to be valid.” This was a matter of “orchestrated DISINFORMATION,” she capitalised in anger, “designed to cause informal voting.” Every box, she fumed, had to be numbered.

In its response to the message from Daniels, the AEC expressed its own disappointment. “Formality rules are very clear – in addition to them being printed on our ballot papers, our staff will also walk voters through what’s required.” In some cases, it will take more than just a walk through to dispel the miasma of falsehoods that will mark this election as voters cast their ballots.



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  1. Phil Pryor

    The filthiest bent grub on this planet (what a competition!) is probably R Murdoch, the treacherous pissoff ex-Australian mental renegade egomagifico planetary global phenonenon and anything else you might ask him…now a yankee wankee with criminality in the mental tankee, (who is tapping my phone??) Murdoch (Merde Dog to his friend, if there is one) is a fixated egoswollen extremist of coercion, cunning, plotting, cornering, controlling and pissing from great heights of “unique” self. Phar Kim.

  2. totaram

    You didn’t mention anywhere that the AEC has no power to move against deliberate lies in election advertisements, unless they actually misinform voters about the actual mechanics of voting. So lies about the opposing party are completely “legal”.
    This is so completely ridiculous that it needs to be fixed ASAP. Let us see if the new government moves to do this. The present government doesn’t even want a federal ICACV so we can’t expect much from them. Lies and misinformation are their forte in every election.
    Apparently the SA state voting laws have some kind of restriction on outright lies. This could be copied or brought in.

  3. New England Cocky

    Uhm ….. I have always found that the COALition are very good at pursuing their own personal agendas at any expense to Australian voters.

    Take the representative of the Nazional$ in New England, the ”not good enough” adulterous, alcoholic misogynist, Barnyard ”Beetrooter” Joke.

    1) His unlimited support for dams hides the real use for stored water as being for mining rather than growing food & fibre.
    2) His unlimited support for the Northern Inland Railway (NIR) regardless of the blowing out cost presently about $14 BILLION and never financial by the NIR business case may have something to do with his purchase of two properties in the Pilliga Scrub that just happen to sit on top of CSG deposits. So having a railway line about 20km from the property will facilitate the export of this environment destroying product through the Port of Gladstone Qld.
    Now what was that about the Nazional$ representing the best interests of the rural socialists in regional & remote Australlia?

  4. Michael Taylor

    Carol received a text from the Libs this morning telling her (and no doubt tens of thousands of others) that a boatload of refugees has been intercepted and to imagine what would happen under a Labor government.

    Pathetic and desperate.

  5. Terence Mills

    So the policy of not commenting on onwater matters for national security reasons has been breached by the very person who introduced the rule.

    A couple of things occur : has the bellowing by Morrison and Dutton about people smugglers getting ready for a Labor government actually got through to the people smugglers, who think it’s going to be easier under a Labor government, in which case the Morrison government have been party to facilitating this incursion. Or is this one of the periodic boat interceptions which we don’t normally hear about due the the onwater secrecy policy. Or, has Spudley Dutton relaxed the air and sea patrols run by Border Force in the hope that a boat would get through in time for the election.

    Acting against the national interest, the last refuge of the scoundrel !

    Michael, fingers and toes are crossed – I have great faith in the common sense of the Australian people.

  6. GL

    I’ve assiduously avoided looking at any of the papers today and won’t be looking at the ABC until I finish binge watching (a rarity for me but today just screams out for it) the third series of Doom Patrol. That’ll keep me happy for another three hours.

  7. Andreas

    Together with many other people, I’ve had a gutful. The system is broken. Before abandoning the idea of a parliamentary democracy altogether, why not go back to the original constitution and try again: Imagine: Disband all political parties, ban all their logos, colours, links, connections, shenanigans, fraud and collusion. Ban all lobbyists from parliament and institute a incorruptible parliamentary oversight body with judicial powers. Divert media ownership to Australian operators only. Start again as per original constitution with single member electorates. Won’t work you say? Just try it with the public’s involvement, you might be surprised. Anything like this appears more enticing than the shambles we’ve got now.

  8. Andrew J. Smith

    It will be interesting if analysed, too many people are popping up offshore to complain that they did not receive postal votes, posted 21 April with AusPost. AEC’s (social media interns’) responses were nonsensical and did not comply with their own public information nor role i.e. although they claimed priority post and/or courier, neither occurred (sure DFAT/diplomatic corps voted).

    Then one was informed that it’s ‘awesome’ to have the opportunity to vote, even if one cannot, but you don’t need to vote offshore. Then…. this implies a potential fine and/or removal from the electoral roll for not voting?

    Something whiffy and inspired by the attempts at voter suppression by the US GOP/Kochs, UK/Brexit, Hungary etc.?

  9. Michael Taylor

    Early days, I know, but I had hoped things would be looking better at this stage.

  10. Michael Taylor

    Well, now it’s looking better.

  11. ajogrady

    Australians need to start paying attention. Our Democracy is under threat by one cause minor parties that are harvesting preferences for the Morrison government. Their deception is unAustralian. And while this election is about integrity and character perhaps it is not just the integrity and character of the two leaders that are in question. It is also the integrity and character of main stream media journalists reporting on the election that is also in question. Biased and suspect journalism is undermining our democracy. Journalists are not at press conferences to make biased political statements dressed up as questions.
    Democracy is being gamed by big legacy media and played to benefit big business. If businesses pay large amounts of money to “influencers” to gain advantage over their competition then how much is the influence of the L/NP turd polishing media outlets of Murdoch, 7 and 9 worth to the L/NP? The Main Stream Media have been a life support system and cheer squad for a side of politics that has decimated Democracy. The MSM is the problem not the solution. Advertising with these media outlets should be counted as political donations to the L/NP. Once again our democracy is under threat and it not from a invading marauding nation. Its from within. Our democracy is being stolen right under our noses by billionaire media barons and mining magnates fulfilling their own self interests that do not benefit the majority of the people and that is not how democracy works. We are a lesser people for this interference. Those who made the ultimate sacrifice will be rolling in their graves.

    Worst debt blow-out in the developed world refutes Coalition claims of economic competence

    Zombie Doctrine: belief in Coalition as “super economic managers” sticks, despite proof otherwise

  12. GL

    I wonder how long it will be before The Murdoch issues an order for, I mean invitation, Albo to appear before the Great One?

    I am also glad that I was proved wrong about Scummo the Spineless and LNP being voted back in again. Here’s hoping that Labor can get the necessary seats to govern outright.

  13. Albos Elbow

    Murdoch gets it up the arse too.
    How good is that!

    Hope the greedy old coal sucking fossil fool dies of COVID.

  14. Terence Mills

    I said, above that ‘I have great faith in the common sense of the Australian people’.

    Well done Australia !

    The one thing I will say about Clive Palmer is that he has shown remarkable consistency – after spending multi millions of dollars in 2019 and again in 2022, he still hasn’t won a single seat.

    If Peter Dutton is the new face of the Liberal party I feel very sad for the support base of the once great party. It could be Stuart Robert who takes on the leadership, but who cares.

  15. Consume Less

    Well done Australia, well done to the Greens, Labor and Teal !!!!

  16. Kyle Brunning

    The sweetest victory in a long time..

    And Schmirko’s vision of an eagle, signalling to him some divine favour..was really just a premonition of a pigeon shitting on his bust at the Ballarat botanical gardens…

    May it always be so.

  17. LOVO

    G’day all, I can feel the smiles on your dials radiating out of my screen…woo hoo 😃
    Yesterday was a great day….both my team’s won, eh Michael 😜

  18. Michael Taylor

    Howdy, LOVO. We did it. 😀✊

  19. LOVO

    Yes we did 👏 On a different note, I found it remarkable that in the last week or so that one of the most asked questions on Google was ‘What party does Scomo represent’….I guess I shouldn’t have been so gob-smacked that that needed to be asked, but Geezus H… Australia. 😕
    Anyhoo, both my teams won….Go Labor…Go Cats

  20. Kaye Lee

    It’s a strange feeling. Emotional exhaustion comes to mind. The last nine years have taken a terrible toll on this country. The lies, the secrecy, the nastiness, the rorting and corruption, the nepotism, the terrible religious culture wars, personal ambition in front of national interest. Can we really change politics in this country? Will it be Peter Dutton teaming up with Barnaby Joyce to lead the Opposition? Will Labor finally realise that they MUST co-operate with other progressives?

    I am still nervous about the future but at least, now, we might have a chance to return to some semblance of decency and integrity. Don’t blow it Labor.

  21. RomeoCharlie29

    I join in the happiness and want to congratulate all of the AIMN writers who so assiduously and accurately called the LNP government for the liars, charlatans, crooks and thieves that they were. I am talking especially about Kaye Lee, Binoy, Rossleigh, Lord and of course Michael not to mention those who voice the reviews in the comments. Only Bernard Keane in Crikey has been as brave in his calling out of the Scummo-led rabble for its multiple demonstrated malfeasances. The Murdoch hack pack of reporters and the rags they work for have been shown to be irrelevant. The stridency and bias in their support for Scummo and his crew have been to little avail and while we can confidently expect them to be equally strident, or more so, in attacking Albo and Labor we now know that the readership is ignoring them. I think it is worth putting on the record that the NT News, possibly alone among Murdoch tabloids, recommended a vote for Labor. Not sure it helped the re/election of Gosling in Solomon, the election of my friend Marion Scrymgour in Lingiari and a former ABC colleague in Malarndirri McCarthy returned in the Senate. The Nats had high hopes in Lingiari but it’s clear people recognised that Parliament didn’t need another fat white man and opted for diversity. But I still wonder about the disengagement of some people. As I waited to vote the woman before me, shuffling a handful of htv’s confided she still didn’t know how to vote.

  22. Albos Elbow

    Well done Labor and the Mighty Union Movement.

    Who said Morrison can’t change?
    He’s changed from an incompetent, corrupt PM to an incompetent, corrupt, irrelevant back bencher in just one day.

    An election outcome where the Greens and/or the Teals impose a much more adequate policy on climate change on Labor, is a good thing for Australia and the world.

  23. Terence Mills

    Murdoch evidently is very peeved at not having been able to tip the election in Morrison’s favour.

    Murdoch’s Sunday SUN in the UK says that

    Australia had elected “anti-Queen left wing PM Anthony Albanese who tried to remove monarch as head of state”.

    The 59-year-old (Albanese) had previously threatened to crumble the Commonwealth, sharing his desire to get rid of Her Majesty,” it said.

    Nasty people the Murdochs when they don’t get their way !

  24. Canguro

    Terence, this said (albeit in a British newspaper with British staff) by a man who was born a Commonwealth citizen but relinquished such in order to grow his already considerable pile of filthily-gained lucre into an obscenely huger amount; the Dirty Digger morphing into the American Nightmare and using the endless rivers of money accrued on the basis of printing lies, sleaze, scandal, along with the ruthless destruction of peoples’ lives, to corrupt democracies across the planet.

    No amount of white-washing can ever cleanse the stain that attaches itself to the name Murdoch.

    A brave move if it eventuates, but it would be a very big step in the right direction if our new government was able to hobble this malicious influence on the Australian psyche.

  25. Albos Elbow

    He’s done his dash in the US and Australia, has no credibility any more.

    So he switches to the UK to try and keep BoreArse Johnson in power.

    Go back to your US homeland and die.

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