IT’S DEAD: Opposition to block Labor’s filter


Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey tonight revealed the Coalition would block Labor’s mandatory internet filtering policy in parliament, in a move that will signal 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 filter policy in the past – interrupted them to continue 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.”

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.”

Other Liberal MPs also welcomed the move. “The Liberal party announces that we oppose the internet filter. A great victory for common sense!” wrote MP Jamie Briggs — who has long opposed the policy — on Twitter. And fellow MP Alex Hawke, who had similarly opposed the plan, agreed, also describing it as a victory for common sense.

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 spokesman 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 ALP 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,” Senator Ludlam said, 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,” said EFA chair Colin Jacobs 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.

Image credit: Mykl Roventine, Creative Commons


    • Yup — certainly it is very hard to imagine that Labor would now return to power with the absolute Senate majority that it would need to push this through, given the popularity of the Greens. I think it’s safe to say the filter policy is now dead.

        • To be honest, I would prefer Conroy and Gillard in power (as long as the Greens hold the balance of power in the Senate) compared with a Coalition Govt under the Mad Monk. At least with Labor we get to keep the NBN.

          • +1 on this…unless the Coalition comes up with a broadband policy that is comparable in coverage and service speed to the NBN, the NBN needs to survive.

          • The Libs would have a problem if they really wanted to ditch the NBN, because the Nationals 2010 policy explicitly demands a priority fibre rollout. My guess is they’ll keep all the good technical work done by Mike Quigley et al, but deliver it with better financial oversight than Labor can manage.

    • Cheers — that was actually the longest part of putting this article together — trying to find the right graphic. I actually tried for a Mortal Kombat “fatality” image, but couldn’t get one in a high-enough resolution :(

  1. If the Coalition loses the election they’ll claim that the public voted against their anti-filter position and just vote for it when it comes up.

  2. Why is everyone cheering? Sure its good news but the Coalition are still for censorship. “Labor’s plan is flawed and will not work, and we will have a different and better approach.”

  3. Well, thats amusing.

    So we have the current government supporting the NBN (good) and the deceptively pointless filter (bad).

    And we have the opposition opposing the NBN (bad) and also promising to kill the deceptively pointless filter (good).

    What a great example of damned if you do, damned if you don’t, eh?

    Do you hate the filter more than you love the NBN? Tough call.

    • I guess that depends upon whether you’d rather live on your knees than die on your feet.

      Like the state motto says: Live free or die.

  4. I rang up Conroy and gave him a bit of my [CENSORED] mind.



  5. Simon, the filter is now dead no matter who gets in, thanks to this Libs announcement. So the choice is basically NBN or no NBN.

  6. That’s excellent news as now we can safely vote Labor back in at this years election to proceed
    with the FULL NBN roll out knowing that the ISP based internet filtering is dead in the water.
    As the Greens will hold the balance of power in the senate and along with the Coalition will both
    block it from passing. So now everyone vote Labor OR Greens and we can all have the
    FULL NBN AND no ISP based internet filtering to worry about.

    Now that’s a WIN, WIN

  7. We can hope that this is the end of the stupidity.

    Now for the next one. Stopping Dtata Retention before it gets to be policy

  8. i personally think rescinding the filter is a lot easier than having the NBN blocked for another 3 years. fixing the ballsup that would be a canned NBN would take a LOT of work – and cost us in the meantime. too simple an analysis but in the meantime a possible second term Labor govt looks to be shouted down by greens and libs, and some others should they win a seat.

    its now pretty much accepted that Labor will be losing seats; its just a matter of how many. either way the Greens look to be holding the reins in the Senate, which *wont* help keeping the NBN alive but *will* help shutting off the filter. i know which of those battles id rather be fighting in that respect.

  9. Hey Conroy ;-)

    Cheer up bro. Lots of people will still love you for the NBN.

    Take the knock and get on with it, bro.

  10. Thank G@@@@filtered by S.Conroy on the grounds this word may a) be offensive to people who believe the earth is 10,00 years old or b) encourage paedophilia@@@@od for that.

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