Liberal Senator James Paterson has called on Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese to boycott WeChat in solidarity with the Prime Minister after Scott Morrison’s account was taken over and rebranded without the government’s consent.
Mr Morrison’s account earlier this month was renamed “Australian Chinese new life” and the description was changed to “provide life information for overseas Chinese in Australia”.
He previously used WeChat to communicate government announcements to 76,000 followers.
Senator Paterson, who chairs the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, told Sky News Australia the censorship in his view was “very clearly a Chinese government action”.
“It’s not clear quite how the Prime Minister lost control of his account, but it’s clear that WeChat has taken no steps at all, despite requests from the government to restore control,” he said.
“It appears a pretty clear intention that they want to censor the Prime Minister and prevent him from reaching the Australian-Chinese community on the most popular and widely used means, which is WeChat.
“Quite alarmingly, though, they’ve left the Opposition Leader’s account, Anthony Albanese’s account, untouched, and it appears to me to be a transparent attempt to interfere in our democracy in no less than an election year.
Senator Paterson said it was incumbent on all politicians to leave the platform given China’s “partisan intervention”.
“We should have a voluntary boycott of the platform, and I’m calling on the Leader of the Opposition in particular, Anthony Albanese, to show some leadership here,” he said.