Ex Aussie PM accuses Facebook's fact-checkers of censoring Aboriginal Voice to Parliament debate

Former prime minister Tony Abbott has accused social media giants of attempting to censor the debate surrounding the proposed Aboriginal Voice to Parliament as Australia's RMIT FactLab is called into question again over its fact-checking.

Ex Aussie PM accuses Facebook's fact-checkers of censoring Aboriginal Voice to Parliament debate
Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott / ABC
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Former prime minister Tony Abbott has accused Facebook's fact-checkers of trying to "censor" the case against the Aboriginal Voice to Parliament.

The accusation comes after Facebook removed ads paid for by conservative lobby group Advance Australia, which urged voters to oppose the "yes" vote in the upcoming referendum.

The ads claimed that if successful, the referendum would give "special rights" to one group of people based on their race, the Daily Telegraph reported.

However, Advance Australia Chief Matthew Sheahan has disputed this, stating that the decision to remove the ads was based on "misinformation".

A fact check by RMIT FactLab, relied upon by Facebook, said that "the claim that the voice will provide 'special rights' … has been rejected by leading constitutional experts".

In response to the removal of the ads, Abbott argued that Big Tech and the government were attempting to push the Voice through without a proper debate. "The government is hoping to push this through on the 'vibe', relying on people’s good will and reluctance to be thought ungenerous to Aboriginal people," he said.

Abbott also claimed that the government was "slanting the playing field against the 'no' case by not funding either side, by giving tax-deductible status to the 'yes' case only, and now by relying on woke public companies to push the 'yes' case while relying on Big Tech to censor the 'no' case".

Sheahan also weighed in on the matter, stating that the fact-checkers had gotten it wrong and that "the activists behind this should check their own biases before masquerading as impartial fact checkers".

He went on to argue that "the truth is you can’t fact check the voice because it has no detail … it is a blank cheque payable to future politicians who can make up the rules as they go along".

While Advance Australia has claimed that its ads were censored, other pro-voice groups have run ads stating that the Voice to Parliament will give "First Nations people … a say" in government decisions, despite the fact that 11 members of the current parliament identify as Aboriginal.

RMIT has said that "leading legal and constitutional experts have rejected the claim that the proposed Voice to Parliament will provide 'special rights' to one race of people".

However, other experts and commentators have disagreed with this assessment and argue that the Voice could lead to special rights on the basis of race.

Chris Merritt, Vice President of the Rule of Law Institute of Australia, said that if the Voice were to pass, "it would send a permanent message that this country is no longer committed to equal rights for all".

Meanwhile, Rebel News is taking up the fight against RMIT FactLab in a blockbuster lawsuit after it incorrectly labelled our story as "false" despite sources countering the official mainstream narrative.

Earlier this year, the CEO of The Shrine of Remembrance, Dean Lee, cancelled plans to light the sacred site in LGBTQ+ pride colours, citing "threats against his staff" for backtracking on the controversial move. In the absence of any tangible evidence presented by Lee and the media to back up these claims, Rebel News Australia chief Avi Yemini took on the story the mainstream news outlets refused to investigate, in a bid to find out details about the nature of the alleged threats.

While interviewing sources at the Shrine, Yemini captured on camera Victoria Police's protective services officer, who was in charge of security at the site, refuting the claims made by Lee. Rebel News then followed up with Victoria's Police Media team, which confirmed that: "police had not received a formal report."

RMIT marked Rebel News' story as false, detailing its findings in an article title: "Staff at the Shrine of Remembrance did receive threats to their safety which Victoria Police are investigating."

Its article reported that "claims by far-right activists that the Shrine of Remembrance CEO fabricated safety threats against staff are unfounded."

At the time when Rebel News published the reports, no evidence of threats has been reported anywhere.

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