Archive for the 'Non-Conroy Assholes' Category

A damning assessment

Henry Ergas has a great piece in The Australian today that offers a fairly comprehensive analysis of the secrecy and idiocy that runs through the Rudd Labor Government.

He touches on some of Conroy’s failings:

As for the national broadband network, the Government seems intent on making its predecessor’s policies look good, a feat I considered to be beyond human ingenuity.

The Coalition merely wasted time and money. This Government seems determined to wreck the network we have. Stephen Conroy is poised to try what no country has seriously contemplated: undertaking a complete revamp of the incumbent’s network against the incumbent’s active opposition. This involves huge costs and risks for users, especially in country areas, for Telstra’s shareholders, and for taxpayers, who will bear the project’s inevitable and mounting losses.

And Labor’s secrecy:

Lack of transparency makes the Government’s record all the poorer. John Faulkner promised full disclosure. In fact, disclosure has been pitifully inadequate. Access to the modelling underpinning FuelWatch: refused. Access to the model used to evaluate the ETS: refused. Access to the cost-benefit studies underpinning the NBN: refused. Access to the Building Australia Fund’s project appraisals: refused. Access to the Treasury’s assessment of alternative stimulus packages: refused.

This makes a mockery of democracy, whose virtue, as the historian and philosopher R.G. Collingwood argued, lies in forcing governments to operate “in the open air, and not as a post office distributing ready-made policies to a passively receptive country”. This Government seemed full of policy wonks who would bring a fresh breath of serious expertise. Unfortunately, it has proven far more adept at politics than at policy.

Whenever the likes of Rudd or Gillard are asked for treasury modeling that backs up their policies, they offer nothing. This is, by their own admission, no more than “pay back” for Howard and Costello not releasing modeling when they were in Government. Labor has absolutely no interest in transparency or accountability in Government, only in keeping a terrible status quo alive. Undoubtedly, Labor’s actions while in Government now will serve as justification for the Liberals not releasing modeling when they make Government in the future. Someone needs to break the cycle. The taxpayers deserve it.

The Labor party is trying to implement so many new policies and spend billions of borrowed dollars without showing us the modeling and the evidence that underpins their decisions. All they’re interested in is playing tit for tat with the Liberals. Why are people not outraged?

Conroy to appear on “Insight”

Stephen Conroy will appear on SBS’s Insight at 7:30pm AEDT this coming Tuesday. It looks like they’ve found guests and experts on all sides of the debate, so I don’t think Conroy will be able to get away with as much as he did on Q&A.

Naturally, you can expect an angry write-up from me after the programme finishes. I can’t wait.

Webshield’s Anthony Pillion is an idiot

Anthony Pillion

The neckbearded Anthony Pillion

Of the six ISPs participating in Stephen Conroy’s mandatory filtering trial, none have had a higher profile than Webshield. Webshield’s managing director, Anthony Pillion, has frequently made himself available for comment, generally offering his heartfelt support of filtering.

Webshield, who voluntarily offers ISP level filtering to its customers, could see its niche in the market destroyed by Conroy’s MIF scheme. This makes some of Anthony Pillion’s comments all the more bizarre. In a terrible article published by AustralianIT, he had this to say:

The mandatory level of filtering proposed by the government is not some pipe dream; filtering large volumes of traffic for small lists of URLs is possible and viable with technology available today.

Another complaint is that content will be blocked when it shouldn’t be. Over blocking is an issue for dynamic filtering not for blacklist filtering.

This is absolute nonsense. Considering that the blacklist will be handled by government bureaucrats, it will be subject to the full array of human error, or more likely, human stupidity. As the recent ACMA leak shows, popular and completely innocent websites have made their way onto the blacklist.

The most telling comments from Pillion emerged following the first ACMA blacklist leak, which was said to have been inaccurate:

Anthony Pillion, managing director of Webshield, one of six ISPs participating in the Federal Government’s internet filtering trial also said “there is a giant question mark over the motive and credibility of the content in the leak”.

Pillion said the leaked list was not a list of URLs in use during the trials.

“It seems as if it is a compilation of information available on the web, and includes some URL’s never investigated by ACMA,” he said.

“That makes it questionable at least.”

“It has more basis in michief than in credibility.”

[…]

An online story in a Sydney newspaper earlier today attributed the leak without qualification to a Government-approved maker of internet filtering products.

Pillion doubted those companies would leak the information.

“The only motive could be somebody that dislikes intensely what the Government is proposing at the moment, and will go to any lengths to undermine it.”

For the past two years, ACMA has sent weekly updates of its lists to makers of internet filters, Pillion said: “There would have to be copies of various lists floating around”.

The lists used in filtering trial are encrypted and “far more secure”, he said.

While it’s not easy to work out exactly what Pillion is trying to say, it seems he’s unaware that the blacklist can be easily extracted from filtering software by people who have the relevant technical knowledge. The companies themselves don’t need to leak the information as, by design, the list must be stored somewhere within the program. Is Pillion computer illiterate, or just completely stupid?

It seems amazing that Pillion could talk about leakers lacking “credibility” when he’s supporting actions which are bound to hurt his company.

ACMA clowns “not suppressing” political speech

acma_logoThe Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will be responsible for choosing which websites are censored under Stephen Conroy’s proposed Mandatory Internet Filter scheme. The ACMA is an insular and secretive organisation. Their blacklist is held under lock and key.

In early January, a user known as “xFoadx” lodged a bogus complaint with the ACMA about an anti-abortion website. Surprisingly, the authority upheld his complaint, and sent him a letter containing the URL as confirmation. As the website is not hosted in Australia, the ACMA has no way of pulling it at this stage (but it would be censored if Conroy’s MIF were in place today). Links to the site were posted on the popular forum, Whirlpool, as well as elsewhere on the Internet. The ACMA was having none of this, and they made a complaint to Whirlpool’s web host, threatening a fine of $11000 per day if they did not comply with a request to have the link removed.

I personally have no strong opinion on the issue of abortion, but despite that, I find the idea of squelching debate on the topic absolutely disgusting. Conroy has said time and time again that the ACMA will not censor political speech, but he must have no idea what they’re doing, or be lying. Following the ACMA’s threat, websites right across the Internet have removed the link from their website. As noted in Catallaxy today, no matter which you cut it, this is self censorship of political speech in Australia stemming from a Government agency’s threat.

So the situation has evolved from a fellow who made a complaint about a website to test the response of the ACMA, to the ACMA threatening exorbitant fines for linking to that site on Australian websites. It’s an interesting point that many of the social conservatives who are supporting the filter have been flustered by this debacle. Everyone’s a fan of Government action until it adversely affects them, right?

“There has never been any suggestion that the Australian Government would seek to block political content.”

-Stephen Conroy

Glenn Milne misses the point.

Kevin Rudd, who came into government stating that he was proudly an “economic conservative”, recently wrote a 7000 word load of nonsense in The Monthly in which he ditched his economic conservative hat and picked up his hammer and sickle. He’s now out of the closet as a socialist. The piece has been thoroughly debunked, but the leader of the opposition, Malcolm Turnbull, had only mentioned it in passing until this weekend. Turnbull’s counter to Rudd’s socialist diatribe has attracted criticism from several morons, including the Foreign Minister and Glenn Milne.

Glenn Milne on the attack in a drunken stupor.

Glenn Milne (right) on the attack in a drunken stupor.

Milne, who shows his true colours by linking to the left wing Monthly, but not Turnbull’s original piece, characterises Turnbull as “attacking” Kevin Rudd’s ugly wife, Therese Rein. Milne may have a point. Here’s an excerpt from Turnbull’s fiery attack:

I congratulate the Rudds, especially Therese Rein, on their success. Their business grew into a very substantial one in Australia and as other countries followed the Australian approach, grew there as well exporting the expertise developed by them when they seized the opportunity created by Howard’s decision in 1998.

But what are we to think of the wealthiest Prime Minister Australia has ever had, a man greatly enriched by the privatisation and outsourcing of government services, standing up again and again to denounce the very policies from which he and his family have profited so extensively.

That’s harsh language. I know that whenever I’m attacking someone, I like to use words like “congratulate” and “success”. I congratulate Glenn Milne on successfully writing one of the most pathetic piles of garbage ever published in an Australian newspaper. Clearly, Turnbull is attacking Kevin Rudd’s hypocrisy: he and his wife have benefited greatly from the very policies he denounced in The Monthly. Indeed, Therese Rein might not be a millionaire if it weren’t for “neo-liberal” policies that have been enacted through the Hawke, Keating, and Howard prime ministerships.

Of course, you can’t mention Glenn Milne without bringing up the fact that at 2006’s Walkley awards, he physically attacked Crikey founder, Stephen Mayne. He blamed his abusive behaviour on alcohol and drug use. Perhaps this can explain how Milne managed to write such a horrible, untruthful column. Or perhaps it’s more likely that his long term friend, Peter Costello, played a part in some way.

Clive Hamilton is a bald moron

Clive Hamilton ready to pounce on extreme libertarians.

Clive Hamilton ready to pounce on extreme libertarians.

Prof. Clive Hamilton, author of various loads of garbage including Affluenza; former director of the “progressive” left wing thinktank, The Australia Institute; self-proclaimed Public Intellectual™; and potential future frontman of a Midnight Oil tribute band, has been out flying his authoritarian flag on the issue of Internet censorship again.

Prof. Hamilton, who is the Bruce Willis of Australia’s neosocialist movement, recently wrote a piece in Australian IT disparaging “net libertarians” who oppose the planned Mandatory Internet Filter. It shouldn’t come as any huge surprise that a so-called “progressive” would be open to the idea of censorship when you consider that the type of world Prof. Hamilton dreams of would rely on vast government control of just about everything. No central power controls the Internet, and this amoral sea of libertarianism doesn’t bode well with do-gooders like Clive.

To his credit, Clive is taking a slightly more intellectually honest stance on the issue than Senator Conroy, so he hasn’t quite earned the title of “cunt” yet. In contrast with Conroy, Clive frames the filter not as an all powerful tool for permanently defeating child pornography (the evidence suggests it never could be), but as a tool to enforce a moral code on children. I personally think this should be the job of parents. I don’t think a “one size fits all” filter with such a high potential for abuse is worth the risk, when education for children and parents on the dangers of the Internet would be far more effective. There are ISPs that offer filtering voluntarily, so if parents really are looking for an ISP level solution, they could simply choose one of those services. Even accepting Clive’s conclusion that children should receive a censored version of the Internet, neither he nor anyone else in the pro-filter crowd has been able to provide a compelling reason why adults should also be subject to such censorship. Clive’s piece pushed the boundaries of logic when he spoke ill of GetUp’s anti-censorship campaign for cherry picking the worst filter in terms of performance degradation (slowed by 85+%) to use in their advertising and then immediately alluded to the filter which slowed down performance by only 2%. He failed to mention that this was among the worst performing filters in terms of accuracy.

To come to the defence of the broader Australian left, it seems few apart from, well, Clive Hamilton, actually agree with his position, and many are starting to tire of his attempts to silence dissent on other issues (see recent happenings regarding Online Opinion and an email to Charles Sturt University, his employer). The Greens, while probably in agreement with Clive on many other issues, haven’t wavered in their decision to vote against the draconian Mandatory Internet Filter in the Senate.

I realise that support for and opposition to censorship are by no means confined to particular corners of the political spectrum, but I think it’s important to note that many “progressive” leftists like Clive Hamilton are fully willing to use the heavy hand of the state to achieve their ends, even if that means a reduction in personal freedom. This goes against what many would consider to be modern leftist ideals. In addition, religious groups, socially conservative right wingers, and many other special interests are keen to see this filter built, because they know that once the infrastructure is in place, having whatever’s troubling them blocked will be trivial.