‘Please explain’, Conroy tells Hockey on filter


The office of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy tonight challenged Shadow Treasurer to explain the Coalition’s opposition revealed this afternoon to Labor’s controversial internet filter policy.

Hockey revealed on Triple J’s Hack program this afternoon that the Coalition would block the filter legislation when it appeared in parliament, in a move that signals the death of the controversial project if the Greens control the balance of power in the Federal Senate after the upcoming election in several weeks.

“Joe Hockey needs to explain why refused classification material hosted on overseas websites should be available, while RC material on Australian hosted sites is not,” said a spokesperson for Conroy tonight. “The current online content regulations regarding prohibited content were introduced by the Howard Government in 2000,” they added, referring to laws against refused classification content being hosted in Australia.

Shadow Communications Minister Tony Smith tonight said a Coalition Government would not introduce a mandatory ISP filter – instead it would implement what he described as “practical and effective measures to enhance online safety and security” – including returning to the PC-based filtering approach utilised by the previous Howard Coalition government.

But Conroy’s office immediately challenged such a proposal.

“Let’s not forget the Howard Government’s free PC filter program was a dismal failure, despite a $15 million advertising campaign,” the spokesperson said.

They then reiterated regular statements that Conroy’s office has made about the filter over the past year. “The Gillard Government does not support Refused Classification (RC) material being available on the internet,” they said. “This content includes child sexual abuse imagery, bestiality, sexual violence, detailed instruction in crime, violence or drug use and/or material that advocates the doing of a terrorist act.”

Under Australia’s existing classification regulations, the spokesperson pointed out, such material was not available in newsagencies, libraries, on DVDs or TV or at the cinema.

“RC material is also not available on Australian hosted websites,” they said. “The Government’s policy is to introduce ISP level filtering for overseas hosted material which is RC under the existing National Classification Scheme. There’s no silver bullet when it comes to cyber safety and that’s why the Government has a comprehensive $125.8 million which includes education for parents and young people, law enforcement, research and ISP level filtering.”

The Coalition’s policy decision is, however, already being celebrated by those who have lobbied against the policy over the past two and a half years since it was introduced – with Liberal parliamentarians, the Greens, Electronic Frontiers Australia and others all welcoming the move.

Image credit: Kim Davies, Creative Commons


  1. “Joe Hockey needs to explain why refused classification material hosted on overseas websites should be available, while RC material on Australian hosted sites is not,”

    “Because, Stephen, sometimes we Liberal’s are not complete and utter cu….idiots” – should read the reply.

    • I think it seems pretty clear that Hockey read the electoral wind on this one! Especially from the way he interrupted the Triple J presenter to make his views known at length.

  2. how dumb are Labor, their point of argument is that the PC based filtering was a failure…..the reason it was a failure was that NO ONE wanted it…….get it!! , it is like they are trying to make themselves look dumb.

    • Incorrect. Client-side filtering (advocated by the Liberals) is/was a monumental publicity (and security) failure because a primary school-aged child was able to bypass said filter within a day with basic technical knowledge that is readily available to anyone.

      There is no such thing as good client-side security.

      • Incorrect. Client-side filtering is the best possible option for a democratic participation in net filtering.

        The only good security is client-side security.

  3. Conroy you should explain to the Australian people why you have lied about the true reason for your filter, it has nothing to do with protecting children.

  4. “Let’s not forget the Howard Government’s free PC filter program was a dismal failure, despite a $15 million advertising campaign,” the spokesperson said.

    Because no-one wanted it! Will the ALP not learn? They’ll certainly lose my vote if they retain this ridiculous policy.

    • It’s true, not many people took up the PC filter. And not many people seem to want Conroy’s ISP filter either. Doesn’t this say something about the Australian population’s attitude towards any form of filtering?

  5. But Conroy’s office immediately challenged such a proposal.

    “Let’s not forget the Howard Government’s free PC filter program was a dismal failure, despite a $15 million advertising campaign,” the spokesperson said.

    How about “let’s not forget your proposal will cost $43 million and not work!!”

    • Actually in the article it is listed at costing $125.8 million! Toatal waste of taxpayers money for something that even my 11 yo could circumvent. has anybody mentioned to Conroy about proxy sites?

  6. “such material was not available in newsagencies, libraries, on DVDs or TV or at the cinema”

    RC includes mild fetishes link bondage. That certainly is available in newsagencies (possibly sealed) and other media.

    Much of what is classified RC is not actually illegal. It includes content that countries like the UK, Canada and New Zealand have rated R18.

    • True. The thing that I find disturbing is that the filter would block euthanasia material, political websites against abortion and stuff like this — as well as ancient manuals on how to make gunpowder and so on. The line between free speech and objectionable content is never going to be clear or easily definable and this is one of the central problems with the filter.

  7. oh, sorry, hey Conroy, while we’re on the subject… maybe you can explain exactly how international RC material will be in anyway UNavailable under your completely flawed and easily (and legally!!) circumvented internet filter policy!

  8. “Joe Hockey needs to explain why refused classification material hosted on overseas websites should be available, while RC material on Australian hosted sites is not,” said a spokesperson for Conroy tonight. “The current online content regulations regarding prohibited content were introduced by the Howard Government in 2000,” they added, referring to laws against refused classification content being hosted in Australia.

    What a laugh, Conroy announced that they are going to review the RC category to ensure it reflects community expectations… why do that if you think that the RC category is OK?

    Even the government has doubts over what gets swept up into the RC classification, how can the government question anyone else?

    What next? Perhaps it is time to remove the restrictions on Australian sites hosting R18+ and X18+ content and even MA15+.

    Now the coalition need to come up with a genuine alternative to, or way to support, the NBN.

  9. “Joe Hockey needs to explain why refused classification material hosted on overseas websites should be available, while RC material on Australian hosted sites is not,” said a spokesperson for Conroy tonight.

    Actually Mr Conroy, what Mr Hockey said was..

    “The ISP filter-based system does not work, therefore it creates … an assumption of trust that cannot be met by the technology.”

    This isn’t a question of whether RC content should be available or not, it’s a question (and has always been a question) of whether the filter would block it or not. The Liberals have discussed with the industry and now have the facts that the filter won’t do what Labor was intending it to do.

    I know who has my vote.

      • The filter would block it only if the publisher ‘co-operated’ and used an ordinary web site without password protection to distribute the material. If it was distributed in any other way (e.g. BitTorrent, email) then the filter would not touch it, so there would be no effort required to bypass it.

      • Actually, not it wouldn’t block it, this isn’t a technical issue (which as you said can be bipassed), but a process issue.

        When a new URL is added it is done so by end user submission, it then goes through the process which (according to previous articles) takes about 4-6 weeks before it is added to the list, and however long before the list is distributed. The problem is that it’s common knowledge for these sites to fly by night and by gone in a matter of days. By the time the process gets around to looking at the site, the RC content will likely already be gone.

  10. “Let’s not forget the Howard Government’s free PC filter program was a dismal failure, despite a $15 million advertising campaign,” the spokesperson said.

    How about… “Let’s not forget the Rudd/Gillard Government’s ISP filter WILL BE a dismal failure, despite a $43 million price tag,” every sane person in Australia said…. repeatedly.

    Seriously, this is the best news I’ve ever heard coming from the Liberals. Let’s hope that this isn’t just more spin and that they actually plan to deliver on this promise. A filter that can be bypassed with a freaking question mark that bans often perfectly legal material. Admit it Conjob – YOU WERE WRONG. Drop the damn filter now and we can forget this dark page in Australia’s digital history.

    • $43 million? it’s $43 BILLION.

      And Labour say they aren’t going to waste money anymore.

  11. With all of those war crime videos being leaked and exposed to the world online, one can easily see why governments are eager to control the internet.

    Military cover-ups would most definitely be RC.

  12. Julia Gillard must now move VERY fast to drop the absurd and utterly discredited ‘internet filter’ policy.

    She can claim – correctly – that it won’t get through Parliament in any case, as it will be opposed by both the Coaltion and Greens.

    I sincerely hope the ALP does this – and does it fast.

    It now has hours – not days – remaining to fix this mess of its own making, because meetings are coming up over the next few days where, as things currently stand, Conroy will be defending the ALP’s current ahd indefensible policy.

    There is no juice left any longer for Labor in defending its current position on mandatory internet censorship. It’s suicide. Surely ALP strategists can see that?

    If Labor doesn’t drop the policy now, it would demonstrate that the current Labor leadership really does have no commitment to evidence-based policies or respecting public opposition.

    In that case, the ALP would deserve to lose the election.

    On the other hand, a Labor Party opposed to mandatory censorship but supporting an NBN… now would be an attractive option…

    • This does give the ALP a face-saving way of ditching this idiotic policy.

      Will they be smart enought to take it?

      • Not really. Conroy is a senior member of the party and seems to truely believe in the line he has taken. Gillard cannot simply drop the scheme without alienating Conroy and his supporters and loosing the pedeo or a terrorist argument – or worse having it backfire on her. The most she could do would be to place it in review, a move that would probably not satisfy the concerned voters.

  13. I think this issue is a real sleeper. It doesn’t make it into the popular press, but it really niggles at a lot of people. Makes them think about things…. Politicians HATE people who think for themselves – hence the filter.

  14. Kindly step down now Conroy. Do you get it now? We don’t want it. The IT world don’t want it and now your colleagues in Parliament have finally woken up and don’t want it either. I like Julia Gillard but because of you my Labor vote this year is going to the greens to make sure you never have a chance to implement you god bothering ideas. Now be a good boy and run along……..

  15. Conroy your an arse, you just want more chances to call Australians pro child porn supporters to amp up the pathetic useless expensive filter…

    Sorry I meant censorship.

    I can’t wait to see your precious filter fail big time.

  16. Suck it up, Conroy. And then kindly push off to make way for someone who owns a clue.

  17. ALP has lost the plot! Julia is flopping. Rudd is returning. And Conroy? He still thinks the Mandatory Filter is a good idea! … I find his ignorance is not just astounding; but shockingly scary.

  18. ‘Please explain’, Conroy tells Hockey on filter

    He doesnt like you. We don’t like you. – (quote from Family Guy starwars ep)

    I must say its a good move by the Libs. How to garrantee a truck load of votes just before polling day. Sneaky. But they better keep to their word.

    I’d much rather a PC filter for when I actually have kids than have a manditory filter with a hidden blocklist rammed down my throught. Its really a no brainer.

  19. I am 57, and until now, have never put the Liberals ahead of Labor in a Federal election.
    This will be the first time.
    Also, I live in a seat that changed from Liberal to Labor at the last election.
    I would only consider changing my mind if Labor publicly, unambiguously and irrevocably dropped its Internet censorship proposal.

  20. Let us all standby for the humiliating back-down of this stand-over, born to rule, know-all buffoon.

  21. Let’s not forget the Howard Government’s free PC filter program was a dismal failure…. because people in general don’t want filtered internet you morons.

  22. Its like political self assasination..

    How do people like conroy even make it to these positions. Can’t we just vote for the people to make the decisions instead of these twats that run this country

  23. Great news and a great start for the Libs- now all the Libs also need to do is support the NBN and they will win everyone. Most who do not want the Filter.. also want the NBN – so it’s a tough call.

  24. It is time for Julia to realise Stephen Conjob’s filter is heading the labor party in the wrong direction and is going to cost labor any chance of winning the next election.

  25. “[…] a spokesperson for Conroy [said] “The current online content regulations regarding prohibited content were introduced by the Howard Government in 2000””

    Which our beloved communications minister voted AGAINST in the senate.

  26. “Let’s not forget the Howard Government’s free PC filter program was a dismal failure, despite a $15 million advertising campaign,” the spokesperson said.

    Maybe that’s because the public does not want a filter ?

  27. What about family friendly modems / routers? They could sync with the government blacklist daily.

    Oh and Conroy is a fool.

    • I have a kid, he has nearly finished primary school. Internet problems he has faced so far have been around cyber bullying.

      Porn or RC material has not even entered the equation yet and when they do I will have to sit him down and do some explaining. Sadly, a clean feed will not be of much help now with the bullying or later when I have to take responsibility as a parent for my kids continued development.

  28. How’s this for an explanation, Senator? The Coalition – (and the Greens) – have actually listened to the people. People do not want your draconian filter. The end. Democracy sucks, doesn’t it Stephen?

  29. Hockey & co need not explain the misleading statements coming from conroy’s office.

    this is typical of the way conroy & co try to obfuscate the debate.

    the main filter argument is not about whether RC content is good or bad – it is about the most appropriate way to block such content.

    conroy’s solution was clearly flawed and I wonder if it was anything more than a cheap way to buy a few lobbyists votes such as family first and the christian lobby etc.

  30. The ACL sounds like an oddball organisation that have a hierarchy representative of the churches which in medieval times refused to believe that the earth is round.

  31. Because Mr Conroy, its just to easy to bypass and because child porn does not just magically jump up on my screen when im online or anyone else I know.

    There, Argument over, with out all Conroys bullying… err I mean “debating”

  32. Conroy needs to resign – immediately. Who is this guy?? What part of the “You’re working for us, dude” doesn’t he understand?

    Julia, will you please take him out before he ruins everything! Then put him through some sort of “listening skills” training, or something…

    • Technically, Ministers are servants of the monarch, members of the Executive Council.

      Secondly, Senators are representatives of their STATES and not the state’s voters.

      Thirdly, Members of the Parliamentary Party are responsible to the rank and file members.

      Conroy is only really out of the job if there is a massive change in the senate voting patterns that removes the 3rd Labor senate seat, or his place in the ALP’s ballot is promoted to 4th or 5th spot.

      So in practice he DOES NOT work for us

  33. I’m self-promoting, but it’s relevant. I’ve written a round-up of a range of reasons that the filter will be both ineffective and harmful. As a software engineer who ran an ISP in a past life, I’ve got some idea how it all works.

    My summary: “It is my considered belief that the only rational reason Senator Conroy could possibly still have for continuing to push for the implementation of his internet filter is the fear of the public realising how much public money he’s blown chasing an unworkable, unnecessary, and harmful system of censorship.”


    • In a past life? Necromancy is a sin, and currently in the RC category. I’m afraid we’re not allowed to talk about it on an Australian website.

  34. I’m still going to vote Sex Party for the senate.
    Still trying to make up my mind wrt the house of reps. It would be an interesting 3 years with Abbott as PM.

  35. Australian society and values are quickly changing and the internet is a very significant part of that. The longer it’s put off the less likely any government will ever be able to censor our portals. This may well be the government’s last chance to do it.

  36. Unfortunately what a lot of voters do not realise is that our Julia is only a puppet on a string and it is the numbers men like Stephen Cowboy who pulls her strings and who have complete control and when the Cowboy says “Jump Julia” Julia has no choice but to ask “How high Stephen”.

    • Maybe he needs a million and one times. Thick as a brick is the term that comes to mind. Imagine having dinner with Conroy – I imagine he spends all his free time talking about how great he is. Buh bye Stephen.

  37. It’s all about CONTROL for Conroy and Labor (typical) and if this mandatory internet filter ever goes ahead, there goes our free society…

    The Liberals free PC-based content filter was an OPTION and based around educating parents/families re internet content, it was not forced!

  38. What rubbish, the coalition are only interested in jumping on this now to increase their chances of winning the election.

    Hockey doesn’t come across as one of the most trustworthy coalition Mp’s.

    If people really believe the coalition wouldn’t bring their own version of censorship to the internet, then those people have rocks in the head.

    Theren’t called the conservatibve party for nothing.

    • Time will tell bro, your comment and mine will be here for many years to come. Lets revisit it in a couple of years.

      I have faith the Australian public will never accept anything as utterly useless*1 and open to abuse*2 as this sham policy of Labors is.

      1) Circumvented by adding a question mark to the address, ffs man.
      2a) “We promise not restrict free speech except for this, this and this, don’t forget that”
      2b) Trust us, and all future governments, we won’t quietly change the rules which we’ll never show you!!!

      I’m just glad I can talk to my international friends without being so *bloody* embarrassed my government would even attempt to pull this crap.

  39. I think Conroy should answer to the Australian voting public on why he is trying to shove his filter down our collective throats, in the face of evidence that the public doesn’t want it, it won’t work technically, will waste tens of millions of dollars, and do nothing to stop child pornography that he supposedly is trying to block. Does he take the Australian voting public to be so stupid to not see through his baloney argument and see that the real reason he wants it is to control access to information that they government doesn’t want you to know about?
    There are countless examples where Christian right-wingers make grand announcements about morals and then get caught doing something like blowing an altar boy. We should be putting people like Conroy under a microscope and look at their personal lives. I’m scared of Stephen Conroy.

  40. The government will control the NBN. The government wants a filer. The government puts in the NBN and the filter. Next the Morals police will be knocking on your door asking why you need to search on this or that and why do you use encryption, are you a child pornographer? The Nazi’s would be proud of Stephen Conroy and his plans, he’d probably rank right up there with Himler and Goering and toast success at blocking RC material.

  41. I’ve kept away from this whole debate but can’t help wondering what the proportions are amongst those who hate the filter between
    a) those who believe the concept of filtering is ok for other communication channels but not the internet. the internet is a special entity to which the concepts of classification and censorship should not apply.

    b) those who believe filtering for any communication channel is wrong. That RC material should be available on the internet, tv, newsagents , cinemas etc

    c) those who believe censorship is ok but that the proposed filter is not an effective way to do it and will cause more damage than good (so presumably would accept a filter that ‘worked’?).

    Every time I skim a thread like this and listen to some of my friends I get the impression people are reciting arguments from C to support a belief on either A or B. Surely if you believe in A or B you can support that belief without needing to mention C.

    me: I could be convinced about C (but really haven’t cared enough to follow the detailed arguments for/against to form an honest opinion) but don’t think I could support either A or B… I accept society chooses to censor the information it wants to see and chooses to delegate the enaction of that decision to a government.

    As to whether a goverment wasting $125 million or so is something worth getting stressed about; the political parties are going to spend at least that much of our money convincing us to vote for them and we’ll get absolutely nothing in return.

  42. Yes ! Please explain ! Are they opposing because of the declared Bishop policy of “opposing, as the role of the opposition is to oppose”, or is it because they actually understand why it wouldn’t work ?

    Please explain !

  43. If anyone out there seriously believes that Tony Abbott-a seriously moral person-wont rush to keep the internet filter in place has got rocks in their heads. It isn’t about protecting our kids. It’s about governments wanting total control over people’s lives.

  44. In response to Laurie above: I choose both a) and d)…

    a) because with such a narrow scope of programming on radio, TV and newsagency shelves, people would be likely to be exposed to things they didn’t approve of while channel surfing. The net is vast. Those who see material the religious right see as objectionable would be doing so voluntarily, and so long as it doesn’t show or encourage actual criminal acts, that’s noone’s business. If it does, then law enforcement, do your thing.

    d) I am a proponent of material which many squeamish people, such as the thankfully former Attorney General Michael Atkinson or the batshit insane Christian moral guardian of the days of yore Mary Whitehouse, think will send society into a talespin of amorality, sexual deviancy, drug consumption and violence.

    Horror movies, adult oriented computer games, certain literature and educational material… There is a voluntary filter system already in place for all of these, which those who don’t understand the appeal in can exercise at will: DON’T WATCH IT. DON’T PLAY IT. DON’T READ IT.

    There are examples of all of these which serve little purpose and have no artistic merit, but that didn’t stop American Pie having three sequels. It’s a simple case of people flexing political muscle to impose invariably religious based morals at the cost of freedom of expression. Phrases like “secular government” and “separation of church and state” seem to have lost all meaning. (Except for meaning religious organisations are tax exempt, which still makes no sense to me.)

    I’m an atheist. I like zombie flicks. I like Left 4 Dead 2. I liked Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas with the sex minigame included. I studied chemistry and medical sciences at university, meaning that information with regard to drugs is fascinating. I have not killed anyone. I have not raped anyone. I have not enacted violence either to get my jollies or to take something from anyone. I’m a father of a young child, whose safety online and in the real world I accept as MY responsibility. Oh, I also enjoy the inane babblings and ridiculous behaviour of users of 4chan.org. Don’t post anything myself, but it’s like avant garde clowns in text form.

    A non inclusive classification system and a government imposed invisible blacklist would be censorship by conservatives who would impose their religious based moral imperatives where they are not needed and not wanted.

    Society at large doesn’t care. They’re happy with their sports and soap operas. I’m standing up for a minority. Freaks like me. Stick your god bothering policy up your holier than thou keiber. Leave me my morally and intellectually challenging escapism so I don’t enter mainstream society and infect you all with “weird”.

  45. I agree with your opinion and like the way of your writing. I am using internet to get information on Please explain’, Conroy tells Hockey on filter from couple of weeks and now it is the best one for me. I had read lots of article on this topic but your article is best among them. I was searching for Sporting Goods Onlinewhen I saw this article, if you know any good sports store in Australia please let me know

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