Home > Uncategorized > Australian Anti-Internet Censorship Campaign Update

Australian Anti-Internet Censorship Campaign Update

By Andrew Middleton (contact: wearechangewa@hotmail.com)
6th May, 2010

We start the update on the Australian anti-internet censorship campaign – mobilised due to the Labor Government’s proposed mandatory ISP filtering plan (see WeAreChange WA’s previous article on the matter) – with the above poster designed by Josh Meney, an Australian activist who put his artwork onto the web in the past fortnight free to publish. Thanks to Josh for pouring his creative energies into this striking and provocative poster. It joins a now burgeoning amount of fantastic artistic pieces that have been created about this issue.

Certainly those of us who wish to see the content on the Internet remain free from Government control for the Australian public – both now and in years to come – will need to continue to pour energy into this campaign as despite some speculation, the proposed mandatory ISP filter is still planned to go ahead by the current Labor Government and still has strong support from a small but influential assortment of political parties, ministers, and interest groups. An article in The Australian on the 29th of April titled, “Rudd retreats on web filter legislation,” states:

“KEVIN Rudd has put another election promise on the backburner with his controversial internet filtering legislation set to be shelved until after the next election. A spokeswoman for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said yesterday the legislation would not be introduced next month’s or the June sittings of parliament. With parliament not sitting again until the last week of August, the laws are unlikely to be passed before the election.”

However, Prime Minister Rudd responded to the article by stating he had “no advice to that effect.” He later said when questioned if the legislation would be introduced this year: “Look, can I ask that you put that to the relevant minister. I don’t have any other advice to what I put to you earlier.” (source: ZDNet.com.au) ZDNet Australia had already that morning questioned the office of the relevant minister, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, about the reported delay.

“The government is committed to the cyber-safety policy, which includes [internet service provider (ISP)] level filtering of refused classification content,” Conroy’s office replied in a statement.
“A public consultation on improved transparency measures has been held and the department is now working with other government agencies to consider the submissions and examine whether the ideas can be used to enhance the proposed accountability and transparency measures. The department is also continuing to consult ISPs on the implementation of ISP-level filtering.
“Once these processes are complete the legislation will be introduced into Parliament.”

These type of listless responses should be of little surprise to anyone who has a remote interest in the Australian political environment in the modern era. For one, it’s typical handballing from Government minister to Government minister, as if these people don’t speak to each other about issues of social & moral importance such as this one. The Australian makes a simple observation regarding Parliamentary sittings and neither the Prime Minister nor the Communications Minister can give any sort of indication to the public as to the issue raised by The Australian. That being, a date for when legislation will be tabled for a policy this Rudd Labor Party successfully campaigned with at the last Federal Election held on the 24th of November, 2007 – nearly 30 months ago.

Secondly, the Labor Party Government currently has insulation batts, a health plan, mining industry tax plan, and ironically enough, a National Broadband Plan to win over the public on and push through Parliament prior to a Federal Election sometime this year. They will quite simply run out of time to table legislation for this proposal before then. Lastly, the best way to appear to be acting on an issue without actually doing anything, is by setting up Committees and public consultations regarding the issue. And once they’re complete, by setting up more. It buys valuable (stalling) time, as well as giving the impression to the public that the Government cares about what the people have to say on the particular matter, and is doing all it can to achieve the best outcome possible.

Whether the above points are agreed upon or not, the likely delay of the tabling of internet censorship legislation until after the election does not mean that us Australians concerned about this proposal should sit on our hands until after we’ve been to the polls, which mainstream media sources have said is likely – but not necessarily – to be called by Labor sometime in September or October of this year. Quite the opposite; this is actually a dangerous period for the internet censorship issue, as it threatens to lay doment and forgotten about in the face of media-saturated issues such as health, global warming/climate change/the emissions trading scheme, the economy, and recently, a proposed 40% tax on mining industry profits. Furthermore, while this writer doubts both the tabling of legislation prior to any Federal Election and a 2011 election, the incumbent Labor Government does legally/constitutionally have until the 16th of April, 2011 to hold the next election.

Thankfully, the Australian grassroots anti-internet censorship campaign rolls on around the nation in the months of May & June.

Corbett Show interview begins leadup to May anti-web censorship activism

Just yesterday (the 5th of May), Melissa Short (pictured below), the Principal Petitioner of the official anti-censorship paper petition addressed to the House of Representatives – which expresses to Parliament that the majority of Australians’ are in condemnation of the proposed legislation and asks the House to “repeal all legislative action concerning implementation of compulsory content filtering of the internet in Australia” – was interviewed by James Corbett (pictured below) of the Corbett Report. In the interview, James & Melissa discuss the nature of the internet censorship proposed in Australia, how far along the Government is in implementing the content filter, and why Melissa decided to pursue this avenue of dissent against the proposal. Download an MP3 file (11.6megabyes) of the interview and a link to the petition from this page: http://www.corbettreport.com/index.php?i=Documentation&ii=316

(This is the 2nd time James Corbett has dedicated a show or interview to the Australian Government’s mandatory ISP filtering plan, with the entirety of Episode #82 from April 2009 dedicated to the issue. It’s available free to download with documentation here.)

The petition itself was pre-approved for submission to the House of Representatives on January 13th of this year, and Melissa reports a steady stream of petition signatures having come her way since then, with an unknown amount being possibly sent directly to Parliament or yet to be mailed. A central part of the interview is the announcement of the final deadline date for sending in signatures to Melissa, which is the 29th of May, 2010. Tabling to the House is likely to be on June 21st, 2010, however, the Petitions Committee requires petition forms to be received in early June for the 21st of June tabling, so please have signed petition forms (one signature will do!) in the mail, sent to the address provided on this petition by May 29th at the very latest.

Also mentioned by Melissa in the interview is the upcoming protest in Melbourne against the proposed internet censorship plan, organised by Suryavanshi Cosmos. Occuring Saturday, May 22nd, 2010, the event will be held in Federation Square of Melbourne’s CBD and starts at 11:30am. A copy of the aforementioned petition will be available to sign at the event. Find further details about the event here: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=100265633350951

On the back of this initiative shown, activists in Brisbane and Perth have joined in by organising a campaign on the same day to acquire signatures for the petition addressed to the House of Representatives. Details for Brisbane’s Day of Action can be found on Facebook and Meetup.com. Perth’s Day of Action will occur at midday on May 22nd, with the meeting place being out the front of the Fremantle Town Hall. Contact myself at wearechangewa@hotmail.com for further details. Please do not bring partisan material to hand out to the public, this is an action solely aimed at preventing internet censorship. Please do bring printed out sheets of the petition, a clipboard, a pen, cameras, respect for the Police, and a confident, polite, and informative approach to members of the public. Hope to see you on the 22nd of May!

Fremantle Town Hall, the meeting place on May 22nd at midday, for petition signature campaigning.

Recap of key points in the article:

  1. Josh Meney’s provocative anti-Australian internet censorship poster.
  2. Australian Labor Government unlikely to table legislation before the next Federal Election, but legally have until mid-April to hold the next election. The campaign against internet censorship in Australia rolls on.
  3. Melissa Short is interviewed by James Corbett of the Corbett Report on the 5th of May, regarding the soon-to-be-tabled Official paper petition addressed to the House of Representatives.
  4. Anti-Internet Censorship actions planned for May 22nd, 2010 in Melbourne, Brisbane (Facebook/Meetup), and Perth (read last paragraph of the article).
Contact the author of this article: wearechangewa@hotmail.com
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  1. May 7, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    Great article Andrew! Can I repost it on the TMA website, with links back to your site?

    Cheers Mate.

  2. Matt
    May 8, 2010 at 6:52 am

    (4) The Brisbane event url is here: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=115372021831434&ref=mf

    Facebook screwed up.

  1. May 7, 2010 at 10:30 am

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