The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters has resolved to continue its oversight of the Australian Electoral Commission and other related electoral matters, launching the Australian Electoral Commission Annual Report 2017-18. In the first instance this will include continuing the Committee’s investigation into the dangers of cyber interference during elections.

The current terms of reference are as follows:

  • the extent to which social media bots may have targeted Australian voters and political discourse in the past;
  • the likely sources of social media manipulation within Australia and internationally;
  • ways to address the spread of deliberately false news online during elections; and
  • measures to improve the media literacy of Australian voters.

Committee Chair, Senator James McGrath said that while the Committee’s inquiry into the 2016 election found no evidence of significant cyber interference, events overseas had shown the need for continued vigilance.

“Whether it is the malicious spread of misinformation or ‘fake news’, or the manipulation of political advertising, cyber interference has the capacity to undermine confidence in our democracy,” Senator McGrath said.

“The Committee will therefore continue to monitor both domestic and international threats to ensure Australia’s electoral system remains secure.

Submissions on this issue are now welcome, and public hearings will be announced when scheduled.