New Prime Minister Julia Gillard today said she understands concerns about the government's controversial mandatory internet filtering policy, but said that Communications Minister Stephen Conroy was putting in an effort to get the policy into shape.
"Well look, I know that there is some concern here, and I believe that the minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, has been trying to work through to get a resolution," she said in an interview with ABC Darwin's Julia Christensen.
"We obviously want a fast internet that meets people's needs, that's why we're rolling out the National Broadband... But there's also a set of concerns about the dark side of the new technology, if I can use that expression," she said.
"Clearly you can't walk into a cinema in Australia and see certain things, and we shouldn't on the internet be able to access those things either. So, Stephen Conroy is working to get this in the right shape."
When asked if she was comfortable with the filter given people's comparisons of Australia with China's internet policies, Gillard said that she was happy with the "policy aim".
"You're not able to go to the movies and see those kinds of things. Why should you be able to see them on the internet? I think that that's the kind of, you know, moral, ethical question at the heart of this.
"But I understand that there's a set of technical concerns about internet speed, and also concerns that somehow this accidentally doesn't move into taking away legitimate use of the internet."
The comments represent the first time Gillard has commented publicly on the filter policy since winning the Labor leadership several weeks ago.
Her predecessor Kevin Rudd had publicly defended the policy several times, on one occasion noting he would not apologise for the policy.
Labor Senator Kate Lundy has previously said she believes the change in leadership could present an opportunity for the policy to change, and is lobbying the Labor caucus to insert opt-in or opt-out provisions into the filter legislation. But Communications Minister Stephen Conroy did not respond directly when asked last week whether he had spoken to Gillard about Lundy's amendments.