Coalition announces it will fight filter

Coalition announces it will fight filter

Summary: Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey tonight revealed that the Coalition would block Labor's mandatory internet filter in parliament.

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Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey tonight revealed that the Coalition would block Labor's mandatory internet filter in parliament.

The move signals the death of the controversial project if the Greens control the balance of power in the Federal Senate after the election.

Asked on Triple J's "Hack" program this afternoon if the Coalition would vote for the policy if Labor won the election, Hockey's response was short and to the point.

"No," he said.

On Triple J, Hockey described the filter as "flawed policy" and said it simply would not work, as it would not capture "a whole lot of images and chatter that we all find offensive that are going through email".

The interviewer attempted to move onto the next subject, but Hockey — who has been a strident opponent of the internet service provider (ISP) level filter in the past — interrupted them to outline the Coalition's opposition to the policy. "And I know it's a contentious issue," he said.

"The filter does not work. The ISP-based filtering system does not work. Therefore it creates a level of assumption of trust that can't be met by the technology," he said.

Later tonight, Shadow Communications Minister Tony Smith confirmed the block was Coalition policy.

"The Coalition did not implement a mandatory ISP level filter when we were last in government because it was not workable or effective, and offered parents a false sense of security," he said.

"A Coalition government will not introduce a mandatory ISP level filter. We will instead implement practical and effective measures to enhance online safety and security including PC-based filters for families. Labor's plan is flawed and will not work, and we will have a different and better approach."

The Coalition's move was immediately welcomed by long-term opponents to the internet filtering policy, which has been on the political agenda since mid-2007.

"This is excellent news and the Liberal Party should be congratulated for finally declaring their hand," said Greens communications spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam in a statement.

"Tonight belongs to the huge number of people who contributed to a tenacious self-organised campaign that stretched from online civil libertarians all the way up to the US Department of State. The [Labor Party] should drop the censorship proposal rather than fighting what now looks inevitable."

"The Australian Greens will work with any party in the parliament on constructive cyber-safety proposals. At last that debate can start properly," Ludlam added, ending his statement with the internet term "FTW", meaning victory.

Digital rights lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia applauded Hockey's announcement. "The Opposition are very welcome among the ranks of those many organisations and individuals that see the filter as a policy failure," EFA chair Colin Jacobs said in a statement.

"A mandatory censorship scheme remains government policy. However, with The Greens long on record as opposing the internet censorship scheme, Mr Hockey's announcement means that Labor's legislation is effectively dead on arrival in the Senate."

Jacobs called on the chief proponent of the filter policy — Communications Minister Stephen Conroy — and the Gillard Government in general to admit the policy was dead, and to move on to "a debate grounded in reality". "The government must now listen to the experts, and get back to working on giving Australians access to better and faster broadband," he said.

(Front page image credit: Vote image by Theresa Thompson, CC2.0)

Topics: Censorship, Government, Government AU

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Talkback

11 comments
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  • If this is firm policy, well done to the coalition...

    Now a rethink on the NBN...
    RS-ef540
  • I feel like I've just woken from a bad dream. Is it really over?
    David Johnston
  • Excellent news for future generations of Australians and we await the humiliating back-down from Conroy. Now Abbott must announce a continuation of the NBN plan or a policy to provide Australians with an acceptable fast Broadband with a reduction in the Conroy 43,000,000,000 dollar price tag.
    sydneyla
  • To David....it's only over if we vote for the Libs. Thank goodness for reason.
    susanaii
  • As a individual politician I like the way Hockey says it like it is.

    He's clearly recognised the internet filter is a complete fraud, not that it's hard for ANYONE who looks to see this.
    Scott W-ef9ad
  • sussanaii, no I don't believe that is correct...

    What this has done in effect (as it is widely recognised that the Greens "will" hold the balance of power in the Senate and they oppose it too) is killed off the internet filter once and for all, no matter who gets in.

    If Labor are re-elected and they send a filtering bill to the Senate, the coalition and Greens will collectively, vote it down.

    So really for IT people now, it's all about the NBN, as the filter has become ineffectual!

    If you want an NBN vote Labor. If you don't want an NBN vote Libs.

    It's as simple as that, now, from my perspective...but again kudos to the libs for this decision!
    RS-ef540
  • @sydneyla, you're right, it would be huge to see Conboy realise that his grand design is a humiliating debacle (pun intended).

    Conboy's hubris probably rules that out, though. Conboy doesn't just think he's always right, he "knows" he is, and it seems his apparatchiks either aren't game to tell him or are part of the problem.
    gnome-8be8a
  • Don't be concerned gnome, Stephen will come to heel. When this mental pygmy has the numbers (votes) explained to him he will see the light and Australians will be the winners.
    sydneyla
  • This is amazing news. I have been waiting for the Coalition's policy on broadband for the last 3 years and this is it? Or will it be announced on election eve? I don't agree with the filter, but to think people will prefer to access the net on old copper wire? Well I'd rather have FTTH than worry about the filter. Fibre optic is the tool for tomorrow, working from home, I'd rather have the FTTH anyday. I'd vote Labor because the filter won't get through the lower and upper house, but the NBN will proceed.
    Mark S-8ff5e
  • I will vote for Labor because of the NBN. The filter is dead in the water now, and the Greens will hopefully have the balance of power in the senate.

    I just have one question: If Tony Abbott is elected Prime Minister, will he require a legislation to be passed through the senate in order to cancel the NBN? Because if he does, then we hopefully will get an NBN regardless of who's in power.
    RL-079ec
  • If you ask me the filter is not the problem (its so full of holes and will be such a politicial PITA that it will never fly anyway)

    What the Libs don't tell us (apart from why they didn't announce their policy and pressure the government on the filter properly, a long time ago) is how they will still enable ASIO to monitor and spy on people's communications. The filter is really just an excuse to design broadband infrastructure such that automated suerveillance will be done 24x7 - on everyone's comms.

    China hasn't even done it this thoroughly. ASIO has seen to it though, and ConBoy puppets their every wish. Of course, all this shows (again) is that both the major parties can't get past the most basic of telecomms issues, no wonder every policy they announce regarding Telstra and Broadband becomes just another massive waste.

    Beware the NBN equation:
    Richard Alston + Amanda Vanstone + Helen Coonan = Never ending mess of Conjobs, such as the destruction of Telstra and a NationalBigBrotherNetwork
    Plutonium-cbbca