Reports of the filter’s death are premature


opinion Huzzah! Bells are ringing, the internet filter is dead. Peace in our time!

Ahem. Maybe not.

In hindsight, the Munich Agreement and Prime Minister Chamberlains’ infamous cry “peace in our time!” is universally ridiculed. However, it was generally accepted the Britian was unready for war. It needed time to rearm and mobilise. The Munich Agreement was breathing space.

So what does a piece of paper signed in 1938 that gave a large chunk of Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany has to do with the internet filter?

Reports in Delimiter yesterday advising that a final draft of the internet filter legislation has not been finalised. Reports in indicate that work on the legislation has been suspended until after the next election, possibly for a year .

This is part of the government’s “clearing of the decks” before an election. Clearly with the dropping of the Emission Trading Scheme, the government is looking at a low profile election time, and it was ridiculously lucky to announce broken promises on child care centers and home insulation on the same day as the Melbourne Storm salary cap scandal erupted.

Now the government has two ways to continue:

1. The Government can take the policy to the electorate, the same way John Howard took the GST to the electorate. This way, if the party retains power, they can claim they have an electoral mandate to implement the legislation. This will make it harder for opponents of the filter to gain support, as the government will have the perceived high ground on the issue.

2. The government can keep silent on the issue, lock Senator Conroy up for the election and revisit the plans afterwards. This has the advantage of preventing political attacks based on the issue from the Opposition and minor parties, as well as other vocal critics. Part of this is based on the assumption that Labor will regain a majority in the Senate, or at least has a make-up where it can pass legislation easier than though negotiation with the Coalition.

It should be noted that Rudd has aggressively avoided negotiation with the Greens on big ticket items, preferring to negotiate with the Opposition and/or independents to pass legislation. Senate elections are complex beasts, and require an Antony Green-level of discussion on start dates of the new Senate and ratios dependant on a double dissolution election or a normal half senate election.

Either way, this is a government’s prerogative. It is hard to believe that Kevin Rudd will lose the election, if only because of the total collapse of the Coalition vote last election may take two elections to reverse. It does, however. have to counter a vocal and aggressive Opposition Leader in Tony Abbott.

My guess would be that the Government will be silent on the issue unless Mr Abbott raises the issue as coalition policy. If the Liberal/National parties do so, Mr. Rudd will pull out the policy and say “We already planned it!” and a general slanging match will erupt, selling the virtues of their plan and deriding the opponent’s plan.

Either way, this is a temporary cessation of the filter policy, but the storm clouds of round two are gathering in the distance.

Darryl Adams is a government worker and internet tragic. A former IT worker, he still pines for the days of IBM keyboards that go CRUNCH and the glow of green screens. He can be found on on Twitter or on Facebook. The views expressed here do not reflect the views of his employer, the ATO.

Image credit: Believed to be public domain or out of copyright


  1. (Warning: Personal Political Opinion/Bias Ahead)

    I, personally, dont’ believe that a returned Rudd government will be able to claim any “mandate” on any policy for exactly the reason you said – there isn’t a reasonably probability that the Opposition will make a decent game out of the election.

    Being handed power because there’s no alternative choice is different to being handed power on the back of a more popular policy platform.

    In my opinion, the next government will be there to merely mark-time until the 2013 (2014?) election, which – ideally – will be fought on actual issues, not just which party has managed not to fall apart in the preceeding 18 months.

    The other thing to consider is how the current government has been acting like a child suffering from ADD. They’ve jumped from bandwagon to bandwagon as their popularity takes off, had commissions, investigations and reports done without yeilding too many new government programs/legislation/whatever. By the time the new parliament sits – assuming a Labor victory – there will be a new headline grabbing issue that they will have jumped on, leaving the filter as another in an increasing list of abandoned projects due to lack of actual interest.

    • Hell no. I’ve read a lot of Green’s stuff…most of it went straight over my head.

      Just to nitpick: Isn’t it double dissolution? I don’t think too many parlimentarians will be saluting each other, twice, across the aisle.

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