Saturday 11 September 2010

Saturday SoapBlog: Syd Walker - Labor, drop the internet censorship policy

Syd Walker, who lists peace, sustainability, social justice and civil liberties among his interests, says he will burn a copy of The Australian on his lawn today, being September 11th.

He writes an open letter to Cairns-based Queensland Labor Senator Jan McLucas, and asks her to drop the policy of mandatory internet censorship forthwith.

Dear Senator McLucas,

Congratulations to you - and to Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan - on the re-election of a Labor Government. I'm one of the people in the community who hoped to see Labor remain in power – but I'm also delighted the Australian Labor Party will be forced to rely on support from progressive cross-benches.

One of the main reasons why is the mandatory internet censorship issue - aka Conroy's Filter.

The ALP's blind support of this policy, justified only with cliches - and despite extraordinarily widespread criticism from within the IT industry and by IT users – is a major reason I'm glad Labor will not be able to govern alone at this time. I have no doubt this absurd and widely-despised policy very nearly cost Labor government.

It tarnished the ALP's reputation with a large number of computer-literate, uncommitted voters – offsetting the positive impact of the ALP's much larger broadband expenditure pledge. In a very close election, that unnecessary loss of support was decisive.

I refer to the recent article by the ABC's technology editor, Nick Ross: Time to listen to the tech-heads. I wrote an article in similar vein on my own blog around the same time: Saga from down-under: brain surgery and the global mind

Last week I made the following comment on Twitter...

It has been been re-tweeted 33 times - and counting.

On election day, I was handing out for The Greens. I've done that for a decade or so, and I've got to know my Labor equivalents. I asked one of them what on earth Labor thinking about the Internet censorship issue? He rolled his eyes and told me he'd tried to lobby within the party for a couple of years to get the policy reversed, without success. He told me it was like banging his head against a brick wall.

The Labor leadership's determination, to date, to continue pushing the 'filter' proposal, strikes me as akin to neuroticism. It's habitual - but lacks any coherent rational explanation.

Please drop this discredited policy now - so the Gillard Government can regain community trust and move forward with what is potentially a first class IT policy. We need a National Broadband Network with built-in guarantees of affordable universal access, net neutrality, freedom of information flow and best-practice privacy standards.

Substantial progress towards implementing this, by the time of the next Federal election, would stand Labor in good stead with the electorate.

I respectfully suggest you need a new Minister to implement this – someone with genuine empathy for the whole objective.

At the very least, please drop the mandatory internet censorship policy forthwith.

Yours sincerely,
Syd Walker
near Cairns, Queensland
  • NB: Syd Walker has advised he has called off his public burning of The Australian in response to international appeals.


Trent said...

I totally agree, Syd. It's a huge shame labor could have such a good broadband policy and then wreck it with Conroy's mindless obsession with the filter which is doomed to failure.

Let's hope Conroy gets made the Minister for shut the hell up in the reshuffle.

Alison Alloway said...

ROFL. I have told Syd over and over that the internet filter has already commenced. Public computers on all "prescribed communities" in the Northern Territory have filters placed on them under the Howard Government's "Federal Intervention" legislation, which of course was continued by the Rudd Government.
The aboriginal people had no say in this.
Furthermore, I am still unable to contact people in Iraq.

Syd Walker said...

Since I wrote this 'open letter' a few days ago, there's been a minor development. Conroy has re-affirmed that he intends to push ahead with his 'Filter'.

See Conroy's net filter still alive and kicking in yesterday's SMH.

The Herald closed comments after only two hours, so only 87 commentators had a chance to post. I found ONE comment suppporting mandatory internet censorship.

This comment deserves a mention, for originality if nothing else:

"I was on a plane with Senator Conroy and prayed it would crash. That's right. I was prepared to sacrifice myself for the good of the people."

Here's a few more:

"Absolutely amazing. I can't believe Labor have learned nothing from the recent election."

"This was the sole reason Labor didn't get my vote in the election. Glad to know it has little chance of getting up now. What a waste of time and money."

"Yes they lost my vote of this exceeding stupid policy"

"Can't the Labor party see that this is the one issue that nearly lost them the election."

"Gillard should be a stop to this farce immediately. No more money should be wasted on an internet filter that the majority of Australians do not want nor need and the majority of the parliament will not support in any case."

"He is like a small child with a pot on his head...

He runs at the wall, hits it, falls down, gets back up and runs again!

I am a staunch labor voter and voted for Tony Abbott despite my utter distaste for the man JUST BECAUSE OF THIS POLICY!"