Australian referendum campaign heats up as Yes campaigners fight misinformation

They stress the referendum’s purpose as establishing an advisory committee and accuse the No campaign of spreading falsehoods, such as a supposed ‘Aboriginal tax’.

Mockup of smartphone and an aboriginal dressed traditional clothes of tribe

As Australia’s upcoming referendum on October 14 draws near, the battle against misinformation intensifies. Yes campaigners are actively combating what they view as misleading information, while early voting continues to see significant turnout.

They emphasize the need to clarify that the referendum’s purpose is to establish an advisory committee and accusing the No campaign of spreading falsehoods. Some voters express concerns about an alleged ‘Aboriginal tax’ due to inadequate information. Meanwhile, the No campaign denies these allegations, insisting that misinformation originates from the Yes campaign.

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has asked the Yes23 Voice campaign to relocate signs with a similar purple color to AEC signs to prevent voter confusion. Despite trailing in polls, the Yes campaign has made recent gains, according to the latest Guardian Essential Poll, with 49 percent planning to vote no, 43 percent voting yes, and 8 percent undecided. The AEC is pleased with the robust pre-polling turnout, likening it to a typical election atmosphere.

Why does it matter?

Misinformation has become a pressing global issue during election seasons, with concerns already voiced about upcoming elections in Europe and the United States. While some platforms, such as Google, have taken proactive steps to combat misinformation and uphold election integrity, others, like X (formerly known as Twitter), have raised eyebrows by downsizing their teams dedicated to countering disinformation. Nevertheless, despite warnings and efforts to tackle misinformation, its impact remains evident, as highlighted by the Slovak Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs’ statement accusing Moscow of interfering in its recent parliamentary elections by deliberately disseminating what it deemed as disinformation.