Thursday

Labor's plan to censor the internet is in shreds. Well, good.

I was pleased to read this article this morning: Labor plan to censor internet in shreds.


The Government's plan to censor the internet is in tatters, with Australia's largest ISP saying it will not take part in live trials of the system and the second largest committing only to a scaled-back trial.


My first thought was "well, good." Let's assume for a moment that the internet filter falls flat on its stoopid pixellated face. Pushing aside the shame of dealing with a poorly thought out and implemented policy, it isn't all bad for Labor or the Australian people.

It's now just over a year in on K-Rudd's watch and his lot seems to be listening to community concerns a lot than the last one. K Rudd and co. set themselves up - for real or for show - as a 'listening' government early on with the 20/20 Summit. When issues like this internet filter jazz arise, they adopt at least partially a the-people-have-a-point philosophy, ala their concessions for pensioners and careers. Having recently watched the final instalment of The Howard Years, one of the points the show hammers home is that Little Johnny, a true-blue my-way-or-da-highway recaltitrant, was more than happy to do the hard push on unpopular ideas (WorkChoices and the GST) as well as refusing to concede on popular ones (the sorry debacle, the Kyoto Protocol).

Labor's internet filter was a lousy idea from the start, a dirty dog of a policy, and I'm pretty sure they - especially Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy (pictured above) - know it. Conroy is laughing in that photo but he must be unhappy with the controversy, which has cast him in a negative light so early on in the government's tenure. His job flogging the filter is a bum gig; better than Joe Hockey's past mantle as the salesman/architect of WorkChoices; but still a real downer. Conroy must be gazing at other portfolios with envy and reassuring himself, again and again, that ‘the grass is greener…’

If memory serves, the internet filter was promised in one way or another during the heat of an election, in the context of doing something to provide extra security on the internet, so mums and dads could watch the tube without fearing that young Billy, on the computer in the backroom, would be clicking his way into the cyber under belly, unearthing fascinating new uses for ping pong balls.

Politicians cop flack for breaking their promises, but when their promises sucked to begin with – perhaps in the heat of an election campaign they were under pressure to pull a rabbit out of a hat and instead yanked out a badly injured hare - a good old fashioned renege can be the best thing to do. With this internet filter, nobody, or at least very few people, out there in cyber land are going to hold it against them.

On the subject of stoopid promises pledged during election campaigns, there is also the recent example of new Melbourne Major Robert Doyle's crazy idea to reopen all of Swanston Street to traffic. That’ll most likely get shut down, which will inevitably mean Doyle broke a promise. Yes indeed, the timeless art of the renege has its place, morally and logically. Alcoholics around Australia would no doubt like to remind K-Rudd that it’d be fine, just fine, to renege on the mixed drinks tax too.

image: theage.com.au

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