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Australian Prime Minister calls factual ad about his release of 149 illegal immigrant criminals ‘misinformation’

Advance Australia Anthony Albanese misinformation

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has labelled an ad attacking him over Labor’s release of 149 illegal immigrant criminals “misinformation” – even though it contains nothing but facts.

The ad, published by conservative lobby group Advance Australia in Melbourne newspaper The Herald Sun on Thursday, targeted Mr Albanese ahead of a by-election in the safe Labor seat of Dunkley in Melbourne’s south-east set for March 2.

The campaign ad states: “Rapists, paedophiles and murderers. Albo, you unlocked the doors of immigration detention and let loose 149 criminals. You paid for lawyers to argue for their release.

“There are 40 in Victoria. Tell us, Prime Minister, how many in Dunkley? We demand you tell us before March 2.”

Mr Albanese responded during an interview on Melbourne’s 3AW radio station, and claimed the ad was “misinformation” and part of a “fear campaign”.

“[They are] seeking to scare people and delving into fear,” he said.

“And I note that this campaign, that allegedly isn’t from the Liberal Party … this group [Advance Australia] is certainly very partisan.

“They spread a whole lot of misinformation and there’s misinformation as part of that ad.”

Mr Albanese did not explain which part of the ad, which contains no false claims, he considered misinformation.

Following a High Court decision in November which ruled in favour of a Rohingya man child rapist in indefinite detention who claimed to be stateless, the Albanese government decided to release another 148 convicted criminal asylum seekers who had completed their sentences but were in immigration detention while fighting deportation.

Documents released to the Senate earlier this month confirmed that among the 149 released detainees are seven murderers and 37 sex offenders, including paedophiles such as the plaintiff in the High Court case, known only as NZYQ, and that 40 have settled in Victoria. Some of those may reside in Dunkley.

Mr Albanese’s Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus, personally signed off on the Australian Human Rights Commission’s intervention in NZYQ’s case, allowing the use of taxpayer funds to pay for the involvement of in-house lawyers and external counsel.

The Albanese government last year attempted to introduce a new “misinformation bill” but was forced to overhaul the draft legislation after an avalanche of criticism.

The Communications Legislation Amendment (Combatting Misinformation and Disinformation) Bill 2023 aims to give the Australian Communications and Media Authority power to stop online “misinformation” and “disinformation”.

The draft bill defines misinformation as content which is “false, misleading or deceptive”, but makes information from the government exempt.

None of the statements in the Advance Australia ad meet this definition.

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