Scott Morrison will promise to crack down on social media trolling and increase punishments for the exploitation of children online as he identifies his immediate priorities for government if the Coalition wins on 18 May.
As Bill Shorten launches Labor’s campaign in Brisbane on Sunday morning, Morrison will promise to increase the maximum penalties from three to five years for people who use a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence under section 474.17 of the Criminal Code Act 1995.
The Liberal leader will also flag the introduction of new aggravated offences for sexual intercourse or other sexual activity with children outside Australia, and introduce new offences covering the provision of electronic services to facilitate dealings with child abuse material, and grooming third parties using the post or a carriage service to procure children for sexual activity.
With a fortnight remaining until polling day, Morrison has faced growing pressure over the past week to identify a concrete agenda for government, having spent much of the campaign to date focused on trying to discredit both his opponent and Labor’s policy agenda.
Courtesy of prioritising a substantial tax cuts package, the Coalition lacks Labor’s fiscal firepower in this campaign, meaning it can’t make a succession of big-spending announcements – and Morrison’s daily message on the hustings has focused on the risk of changing the government rather than outlining his own positive agenda.
The Liberal leader will on Sunday identify legislating the tax cuts outlined in the April budget as his first priority post election if the Coalition wins. In a statement ahead of Sunday’s campaign events, Morrison said: “Delivering additional tax relief to hard-working Australians will be my first priority if my government is re-elected.
“It is your money and you should get to keep more of what you earn,” he said.
The Liberal leader said the government intended to “legislate straight away to lock in record funding for schools, hospitals and cheaper medicines, while also backing in our farmers with our drought relief fund and tacking the scourge of youth suicide with our record $503m investment in mental health”.
“We will also legislate to keep Australians safe, introducing our tough new temporary exclusions orders that deal with foreign terrorist fighters trying to come back to our country, and outlawing the activists who are invading our farms and preying on farmers and their families.”
In addition to the new offences to discourage trolling and punish child exploitation, Morrison will undertake to work with technology firms, internet service providers and sellers of apps to ensure products marketed to children “default to the most restrictive privacy and safety settings at initial use or set-up”.
He said the government would make available to parents the option of a filtered internet service that, at a minimum, blocks access to sites identified by the eSafety commissioner, and also ensure that information regarding online safety and parental control settings are available at all points in the supply chain including point-of-purchase, registration, account creation and first use.