Opposition and nation protests government internet filter

Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey has publicly spoken against the Federal Government’s planned internet filter. This is one of the first instances of a senior politician in the Opposition publicly protesting the government’s controversial mandatory internet filter.

The Broadcasting Services Act, due to be implemented but the Federal Government from the middle of this year, will make it mandatory for all internet service providers (ISPs) to block refused classification-rated material from overseas servers.

In a speech at the Grattan Institute in Melbourne on Thursday March 11, Hockey had many things to say on the topic of the government’s internet filtering. 

"What we have in the government's internet filtering proposals is a scheme that is likely to be unworkable in practice…it is a scheme that will create the infrastructure for government censorship on a broader scale," he said.
Hockey also said that "of course" people would like to stop illegal material being seen on the internet, and that there were appropriate protections already in place for that. "But I have personal responsibility as a parent," he said.

"If I want to stop my children from viewing other material that I feel is inappropriate then that is my responsibility to do something about it — not that of the government."

Senator Hockey’s stance comes after last weekend’s protests across Melbourne and Sydney in response to the proposed internet filter. 

The National Day of Action last Saturday March 6 took the forms of small but dedicated protests in both cities. Over 200 people braved the heat and then giant hail stones to gather outside the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne, while only a handful of people made it to the rally in Sydney’s Parramatta Park due to predicted rain and rail disruptions.

In Melbourne, members of the Greens Party attended the rally, as well as representatives from the Exit International, Electronic Frontiers Australia and Socialist Alternative.

Each of the groups and political parties argued different points against the plans to put a compulsory filter on the internet. Dr Richard Di Natale, Senate candidate for the Greens said that his party would vote for the Government to dump the proposal completely.

A spokesman for Exit International, an organisation that advocates safe voluntary suicide for the elderly, questioned whether the filter would block sites informing the elderly or terminally ill about safe suicide.
The internet filter legislation is planned to be discussed in parliament shortly.