Dutton pledges online crackdown in Budget reply

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

A Dutton government would repeal the key part of the Future Made in Australia plan, lift a ban on nuclear energy and add social media platforms to a controversial trial of age verification technology.

In his budget reply speech on Thursday, Peter Dutton warned of the “dark underbelly of the internet” while pledging to capture platforms like Instagram and TikTok in a government trial currently aimed at restricting access to pornographic content.

He said a Coalition government would also make it an offence to post criminal acts online or track partners with spyware.

Opposition leader Peter Dutton added the internet and technology to his Budget reply speech

“A Coalition Government will make it an offence to use mobile phone and computer networks to cause an intimate partner or family member to fear for their personal safety, to track them using spyware, or engage in coercive behaviours,” he said.

“We will toughen the bail laws that apply to these new Commonwealth offences.”

In the speech, Mr Dutton confirmed the Coalition would repeal planned production tax credits for green hydrogen and critical minerals to “rein-in inflationary spending”.

“As a start, we will not spend $13.7 billion on corporate welfare for green hydrogen and critical minerals,” Mr Dutton said

“These projects should stand up on their own without the need for taxpayer’s money,” Mr Dutton said a speech that also blamed the government for a surge in migration, rising interest rates and power prices.

He later told the ABC that a government’s focus should be on approving new critical minerals mines and that investment should be left to the private sector.

Mining projects are not eligible for Labor’s proposed production tax credits, which will only go to businesses producing hydrogen with renewable energy or processing or refining of critical minerals.

The Albanese government says they are needed to spur the industries until market signals are established and has pledged to time limit the incentives as an “off ramp” for the cost to government.

The leader of the Opposition put nuclear energy at the centre of his comments on energy policy on Thursday but did not detail locations of nuclear reactors, which experts say would take at least a decade to build.

“With nuclear power, we can maximise the highest yield of energy per square metre and minimise environmental damage. We do that by putting new nuclear technologies on- or near- the brownfield sites of decommissioned or retiring coal-fired power plants using the existing grid.

“There’s no need for all of the proposed 58 million solar panels, almost 3,500 wind farms, and 28,000 kilometres of new transmission poles and wires,” Mr Dutton said.

The leader of the Opposition also committed to outlawing ‘posting and boating’ online if he gains control of the Parliament next year.

“Those convicted will be banned from using digital platforms and liable for up to two years’ imprisonment.”

The Albanese government has questioned the need for a new offence, saying existing laws could be applied and that several states have already signalled an intent to act on the issue.

A criminology expert has also cast doubt on how effective a new Commonwealth offence could be, saying it would have little to no impact on stopping the initial crime.

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