PM’s Responsibility to Correct Misinformation & Condemn Trump’s Role in Riots

In the era of fake-news, new research by the Australia Institute shows that the majority of Australians think the Prime Minister bears a responsibility to correct & criticise members of his own government who post misinformation online, and to condemn President Donald Trump for his role inciting the US Capitol insurrection.

The Australia Institute surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,003 Australians on 14 to 15 January 2021, about how Prime Minister Scott Morrison should handle two current issues: a Liberal politician who posted misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic on social media and President Trump’s role in the US Capitol riots.

Key Findings:

  • On the matter of a Liberal politician who has posted misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic on social media, three in four Australians (77%) agree that Prime Minister Morrison has a responsibility to criticise and correct the politician, including 38% who strongly agree.
    • Most Coalition (77%), Labor (81%), Greens (83%), One Nation (69%) and Independent/Other (59%) voters agree that Morrison has a responsibility to criticise and correct the politician.
  • On the matter of President Trump’s role in the riots in the US, more than half of Australians (56%) say the Prime Minister should criticise President Trump.
    • A quarter (26%) say he should not criticise President Trump.

“By remaining silent on misinformation spread by members of his own government, including the promotion of unproven drugs and describing face-masks for schoolchildren as “child abuse”, the Prime Minister is putting the health of Australians and the health of our democracy at risk. More than three-quarters of Australians think the Prime Minister has a responsibility to publicly criticise MPs like Craig Kelly when they spread misinformation, including three-quarters of Coalition voters,” said Ebony Bennett, deputy director at The Australia Institute.

“Vaccinating the Australian population against COVID-19 will be one of the largest peacetime operations in Australian history and if MPs who spread misinformation like Craig Kelly have the tacit endorsement of the Prime Minister it will only jeopardise and undermine the success of the public health effort.

“As the US has shown, democracy must be actively defended. For years, President Donald Trump has steadily assaulted truth and political norms and many Republicans have been complicit in the President’s efforts to overturn the results of the free and fair election he lost.

“The Prime Minister’s lack of condemnation of Trump’s role in the deadly insurrection is a failure to defend the most basic principles of democracy.

“More than half of Australians think Prime Minister Scott Morrison should join other world leaders including Boris Johnson, Angela Merkel and Justin Trudeau who have criticised or condemned United States President Donald Trump’s role in inciting the insurrection in the US Capitol,” said Bennett.

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