Christian lobby slams “incomprehensible” filter block


The Australian Christian Lobby has slammed as “incomprehensible” a revelation by Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey late yesterday that the Coalition would vote against Labor’s controversial mandatory internet filtering project if associated legislation made it into parliament.

If the Greens hold the balance of power after the upcoming Federal Election in several weeks, the Coalition’s block will doom the filter legislation in the Senate. Many anti-filter campaigners are already celebrating the news as the death-knell for the filter project.

However the ACL — a non-partisan group which lobbies on behalf of Christian interests — said in a statement that it couldn’t believe the news. “This announcement is incomprehensible on a number of levels”, said ACL managing director Jim Wallace.

Hockey had said the filter technology simply didn’t work, but Wallace said trials showed that it did. “To have a system that orders takedown notices for Australian sites carrying Refused Classification (RC) material, but allow it to come in unhindered from overseas sites is simply illogical,” he said.

It appears that the Coalition plans to re-introduce its policy of providing PC-based filtering technology that parents can apply to their machines themselves. “To imply that parents rather than the ISPs are best equipped to manage the technology by presumably introducing the discredited Net Nanny system, again simply defies technological reality,” said Wallace.

The ACL chief described the anti-filter effort as “a well-funded scare campaign” on the issue, including “conspiracy theories that saw us all becoming like China and North Korea”. “On every level arguments against ISP level blocking of RC material have been disproved or shown to be illogical,” Wallace said.

The US Ambassador to Australia had also expressed concern about the filter project, but Wallace said the ambassador’s analogy that the internet should be free as the oceans were “conveniently overlooked” US actions to block drugs being brought by boat from Central America to the US — because of the harm drugs can deal to society.

“ISP-level filtering does the same with harmful internet product, and offends the freedom of the internet no more than the US does that of the sea in drug control,” said Wallace.

The ACL chief finished his statement by noting that it was important to understand that ISP filtering was only part of the solution to the problem of RC material on the internet and that the Government’s policy also included additional police funding to intercept illegal peer to peer material and find the perpetrators.

“The Government is absolutely right to retain its resolve on this issue,” Wallace said, “and it is extremely disappointing to see the Coalition adopt a policy that, as the civil libertarians behind it intend, will establish a principle where this medium is beyond regulation – quite unlike the supposedly free seas.”

Image credit: Luz Maria Espinoza, royalty free


  1. Never understood that drug/sea analogy. A closer analogy on the interweb is police going after child porn rings. Which they already do – and should be funded better.

    If we were going to have a better analogy for the internet filter – it would like putting big signs on all ports saying THIS PORT IS DRUG FREE, then looking at the name of the boat and if it’s on a list not letting it in – regardless of what’s in it, all the while ignoring all other ways that drugs could come into the country. Then finally telling everyone there was no longer a drug problem in the country.

  2. I’m sick of the ACL trying to speak for me. They represent such a tiny portion of Australia, yet they think they speak for the world. I guess that’s the type of attitude to expect from people that believe in a magical sky man.

    Long live Atheism.

    • can only find stats from 2001 but
      67.9% of Australians were Christian
      15.5% No Religion
      and 11.7% not stated
      The rest of these stats are made up of other religions with allot smaller % than the above.!OpenDocument

      So to state that they represent a tiny portion of Australia is incorrect.

      What they are doing though is miss representing a large portion of Australia, with a small portion of Australians and there ideals

      • @PointZeroOne, we all know what is said about statistics, so we may need to look at yours.

        The fact that two out of three Aussies said that they were Christian at the last census is not reflected in church attendance, even for funerals and weddings. It’s doubtful if even ten percent attend church.

        Also, to assume that the ACL represents all or even many Christians would seem a considerable overstatement.

        The ACL may appear to have a extraordinary hold on Senator Conroy, but none of them have been able to show that secret government censorship would do what is claimed, or that the imposition of it would not have the potential to create some very nasty consequences. The fact is that illegal content is illegal now, and so does not need a filter to enable enforcement action.

        • yeah yeah my stats were taken from the site and not made up…….

          “Also, to assume that the ACL represents all or even many Christians would seem a considerable overstatement.”

          Yes I know thats why I said they were misrepresenting….

          I was more pointing out Simon Reidy’s “Long live Atheism.” statement and how he’s in a very small minority and how he was taking a stab at Religion/Christianity.

          • To quote sensis figure as your sole basis for religious Australians is an absolute fallacy. Most Australians will simply tick whatever religion they were born into. This doesn’t in any way make them a practising Christian who visits or believes in the fairy tales of the local church.

            The fact that church leaders themselves admit, is that attendance numbers have been dwindling for years. As the rise of knowledge spreads throughout the Internet and media, people are starting to see that science makes a lore more sense, and are shedding their ancient delusional beliefs at an incredible rate. While it may unsettle you, Atheism is on the rise in Australia and you better believe it.

          • even if someone ticks the box because its what they were born into and doesn’t visit church. Doesn’t mean that they don’t hold beliefs.

            But yes the ACL is very much so not representing Christians well and are most likely only representing the fundamental Christians.

  3. The ACL chief described the anti-filter effort as “a well-funded scare campaign”
    Where’s my funding, Jim? No, I’m just an ordinary Australian who doesn’t want to see his children’s and grandchildren’s freedom taken away.

  4. ..and my funding Jim. I spent at least $1000 getting to the Canberra Rally last year, many of us have spent countless hours of our own time creating videos, writing blog posts, getting petitions signed. Tell me where the funding was because we did this off our own bat. Where’s your funding coming from Jim? Oh that’s right… shhhhhh. Is it all Australian voters money Jim?

  5. If the filter worked the list of banned sites wouldn’t need to be kept secret. So they must have always known it wouldnt work..

    Dont be fooled by the libs, they arent opposing it because they understand it, they are opposing it because its labors idea of censorship, they have their own plans for censoring the Internet.

    There is an old saying, “The only thing that has protected Australians from Oppressive censorship is the incompetence of the government to implement it”, i think the current government have come close to being the most competent (and dangerous) government we have had in the communications arena.

    Remeber Richard “the luddite” Alston ?

  6. ……”The ACL chief described the anti-filter effort as “a well-funded scare campaign” on the issue, including “conspiracy theories that saw us all becoming like China and North Korea”. “On every level arguments against ISP level blocking of RC material have been disproved or shown to be illogical,” Wallace said.”….

    Not one argument against the Filter has been disproved or shown to be illogical! Wallace has to stop these lies and back up his statements. The only source that Wallace has is parrotting what Senator Conroy says. Wallace has no knowledge of how useless this filter is, he also should understand the fact that the Filter actually places children in danger! It gives people a false sense of security and trys to throw a blanket over an issue instead of fixing an issue.

    i think Senator Conroy, The Labor Party and Mr Wallace are the biggest threats to our children!

  7. Why does the ACL continue to think that I must live by their code?

    The trials proved nothing. One machine connected to the Internet (or not in some cases). How do you expand that result to the entire country in real life? If I used that trial as the basis for a PhD thesis experiments I would be failed. My supervisor would be completely embarrassed (by the way I am getting my PhD, just waiting for my thesis to be examined in which I used real experiments and meaningful tests).

    The trial report has evidence that it was edited prior to public release, so how can I even trust the results within?

    Why do they believe that the filter / censorship would never be abused? A secret list, maintained without public oversight with no check on whether the content listed should be there or not (it has been proposed to have a retired judge review the process / procedure of making the list, but not actually reviewing the content on it). Why and how can I trust that it will not be abused by someone? How can the ACL or the Labor party or anyone for that matter prove to me that it would never end up like China, North Korea, Iran and several other countries? We the public will get no say. We will get no input. Someone else will decide what is good for us. Can I trust them? Hell no!

    The filter list does not result in illegal websites / pages being taken down. A German researcher managed to get about 60 illegal pages / sites taken down within 12 hours by simply writing an email to the web host. He did not even look at the pages / sites prior to the email. Some of these sites came from the IWF lists, which has been around for a while. Why didn’t the people managing and adding web pages / sites to the IWF send a message to have them removed? This researcher achieved more in one day than what the IWF list has achieved. He actually got them taken down so no one could see them ever (not just those behind a filter). Thus it can be argued that the filter gives a false sense of security. The stuff still exists (although questions have been raised over whether there truly is child sex abuse on the web), we are just trying to hide it.

    There are many other logical and rational reasons why the filter (aka censorship) will not achieve it goals, but I will omit them due to space. I am more than happy for others to add the other reasons in their comments.

    The government works for the people. I have every right as a citizen and a voter to know what they are doing. They should be reporting to me.

    Furthermore, under our current justice system, I am presumed to be innocent until proven beyond doubt that I am guilty. The ‘filter’ and Internet data retention policies now mean I am presumed to be guilty. My details must be logged and monitored to ensure I do no wrong. What happened to the assumption of innocence?

    Would the ACL allow a fellow lobby group along the lines of another religion to dictate to everyone else how to live and what you can view? Somehow I think they would object? Why? If you think you have the right to force your code and morals onto others here, then other religions have exactly the same right.

    Since when did my rights get outsourced? Since when did I give permission for someone else to tell me the code I must live by? Will they return the favour and allow me to tell them the code they must live by? Since when did my wife and myself decide that someone else can outline how our children must be raised? I don’t recall any of this happening.

  8. An inherently pointless lobby should have absolutely no place in attempting to influence politics.

  9. In the seventies it was the Labor Party that had the guts to dismantle the oppressive censorship regime that was in place at that time. Now they want to reinstate it. I do wish they would make up their mind.

  10. I am thankful an organisation like the ACL exists. There are not enough organisations in society that stand up for good morals and protecting the minds of our children from filth and bad influences. Alot of people have a weakness to internet porn and anything that helps them to reduce their likelihood from being exposed to the most disgusting, degrading images is a good thing. Addictions, whether to alcohol, drugs, gambling or porn are destructive in nature causing the addict to desire more and more. Andrew Wilkie’s measures to reduce gambling addiction is similar to internet filtering. It’s a way to set limits so things don’t get out of control for those caught up in these soul destroying activites. If you’ve experienced addiction, you would know that any measure to help is better than nothing at all. It’s sad that people only seem to care about their own freedoms rather than what’s good for our society as a whole.

  11. Sometimes I forget hilarious people like you exist Wendy. Thankfully my life is full of liberated people that have shed the suppressed fantasy world of religion. Where you find people like you who think that YOUR personal laws should be applied to everyone, not just yourself.

    Who the hell do you think you are, telling me and other people across our country what is acceptable and isn’t acceptable to access? What affects our “souls” and what doesn’t. Maybe I love porn? Or like to access up to date information on the recreational drugs I enjoy? Maybe my grandmother wants to die, and I would like to assist her in finding accurate euthanasia information? Just some of the things that would be blocked under a filter, giving people like you a false sense of security and solving none of the “problems” you talk about.

    Take your high and mighty fantasy morals back to the middle ages where they belong. To suggest that Christian values have any place in modern society makes me want puke.

  12. Labor’s Internet filter will help predators hide and thats a real problem we will face. Just when we’ve found the perfect way to catch these creeps, the government wants them hidden away out of view. What this filter will do is it will ensure that most predators/peadophiles cannot access child pornography altogether. This means they can’t be tracked if they don’t access the stuff and they will remain hidden within our society and be able to continue their daliencies unfettered without leaving traces behind them. I’ve written my full argument here.

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