No official filter stance yet: Opposition

No official filter stance yet: Opposition

Summary: Shadow Communications Minister Tony Smith today said the Opposition would not release a formal stance on the Federal Government's internet filtering project until after the planned legislation for the project was released.

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Shadow Communications Minister Tony Smith today said the Opposition would not release a formal stance on the Federal Government's internet filtering project until after the planned legislation for the project was released.

Tony Smith, shadow communications minister

New shadow Communications Minister Tony Smith
(Credit: Tony Smith)

"When it does, we'll take that to the party room, and you'll know after that what our approach is," he told the Australian Telecommunications User Group's annual conference in Sydney today. "I think the responsible course is to wait to see precisely what the government proposes, which we'll see in their legislation."

The news comes as there is debate within both Labor and the Coalition about the filter policy. The Greens oppose the proposal. Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey last night launched an attack on the scheme, in one of the first cases of a senior Opposition figure coming out publicly against the controversial policy.

"What we have in the government's internet filtering proposal is a scheme that is likely to be unworkable in practice. But more perniciously it is a scheme that will create the infrastructure for government censorship on a broader scale," said Hockey in a wide-ranging speech on freedom to the Grattan Institute last night.

Smith said the Opposition was always prepared to look at the results of the filter trial released late in 2009, but it remained to be convinced that what the Federal Government was proposing was "workable or effective".

"Of course, as Joe said yesterday, and as Tony Abbott has said, we want to do everything we can to protect families and kids from being exposed to illegal and dastardly content," he said. "The issue is what's achievable and what's effective. I think the responsible course is to wait to see precisely what the government proposes, which we'll see in their legislation."

Smith said the Opposition was consulting with many interested parties. "I notice my friend from Google here," he said to the audience. The search giant has expressed concern about the filter — particularly, for example, around the area of filtering YouTube content.

The shadow minister pointed out although the filter initiative had been announced back when the Rudd Government was elected "in a very general and broad form", it took until December last year for the results of the filter trial to be released.

He noted that the Opposition had had a policy and resources in place for filters based at the PC level rather than at the internet service provider level as the government is planning. Smith said parental supervision was also "vital" — because "so many of the dangers online won't be dealt with by filters".

Topics: Censorship, Government, Government AU

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7 comments
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  • Here's an idea for the opposition...

    ...OPPOSE IT LIKE YOU DO EVERY OTHER PIECE OF LEGISLATION!!
    anonymous
  • That was an unhelpful comment

    Your comment did nothing to inform the discussion on the matter. I think that Tony Smith has made some very reasonable points, including the last statement which is in reality exposing the fruitlessness of the exercise.

    What this country needs is less pointless and politically motivated mud in the water and more serious debate and discussion - this legislation does after all deal with significant social liberty issues, and the culture and character of this country that we live in.
    anonymous
  • Actually..

    The problem with Labor and Liberal atm, is that they are looking at the Legislation too much, rather from any independent/separated firms that do studies from these kinds.

    When either side looks at each others Legislation changes or updates, they kick up a stink over it, and then blame the senator/minister who thought it up, if they don't like it.

    As you say this is a major social/culture issue, it's about time everyone grows up and have a proper debate on it.
    anonymous
  • All i can say is....

    Bloody pussy!

    Stand up and denounce the filter as a disgrace to a country that is supposedly calls itself a democracy!.

    Depressing is all i can say, through i lived in a great country, longer i live though the less it feels that way!
    anonymous
  • Show some spine

    The Green and Lib senators both are being way too cute about this.

    Do they support the imposition of secret government censorship, and if not will they vote against the legislation to introduce it?

    It's not hard, guys, just do the right thing by the people and maintain free speech on the Net.
    anonymous
  • Prevaricating

    Tony Smith and the Liberals need to take a firm stand on this issue and come out with a strong NO! to the Internet filter.
    I cannot vote for anyone who is not firmly against this outrageous and oppressive filter.
    anonymous
  • Actually. Anonymous, the Greens have come out strongly AGAINST the filter. This response is not derived from pandering to any lobby group, but comes from their existing social and political policies which are well documented and available online. (I had no trouble finding them, which is more than I can say for Liberal or Labor policies).
    You would think the libs would be against the filter on ideological grounds, but they were first in with censoring stuff, including their famous "commercial-in-confidence" to stop you knowing what they are up to.
    Tony Smith is very coy, however. He seems to be keeping his head low, hoping that if Labor wins, he won't have to produce, and if the Libs win, he will go with the flow (which under Abbott means pandering to the Hard Right Christian lobby) and voila! you will be filtered anyway.
    pilotyoda