Archive for the 'The Media' Category

Spare change?

Stephen Conroy is currently for sale on eBay.

In case the listing gets removed, here’s a screenshot courtesy of APC magazine.

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Conroy disappoints again

SBS’s Insight programme tonight was good, but not great. Conroy for once had to stand up to his critics, but as usual, his responses were lacking.

He did manage to expand on a point he made last week on Q&A. He talked non-specifically about reforming the way classifications are made to ensure public “confidence” in the system. I won’t bother talking too much about the implied admission that the current regime isn’t suited to classifying websites (even though it’s been doing it for the past nine years, as Conroy loves to remind us so often), as I’d much prefer to talk about these reforms in terms of the way they could change our debate.

As it stands at the moment, those of us campaigning against Conroy’s filter know exactly what we’re fighting against: a mandatory scheme which will attempt to block all kinds of material from some MA15+ to child porn and everything in between. Individuals who have had their websites blacklisted will have no recourse, as the list will be held under lock and key.

With these reforms Conroy has hinted at, he is essentially asking us to support a scheme without telling us how the classifications will be made, even in the short/medium term. One of my deepest held concerns is that there is no way to know how the proposed mandatory filter will be (mis)used in the years and decades into the future. Conroy has brought this concern forward, and it now applies to the coming months.

newtonpattenI have to commend Mark Newton of Internode and Fiona Patten of the Australian Sex Party. Both were extremely knowledgeable, and took it to Conroy on all levels. In particular, Mark destroyed the idea of the filter having any shred of efficacy, and Fiona exposed Cornoy’s “refused classification and illegal material” doublespeak.

All in all, the Insight format was far better than Q&A, even though they did spend a lot of time on what I would consider topics inconsequential to the current debate. Check it out.

Backflip

Straighty has done a one-eighty. Let’s have a look at some of Conroy’s recent comments.

I contradict myself THIS much!

[Conroy] has also resorted to unedifying inferences against those who dared question his plan. When a Greens Senator, Scott Ludlam, asked some perfectly reasonable questions during a senate estimates hearing last October, Senator Conroy responded: “I trust you are not suggesting that people should have access to child pornography.

If people equate freedom of speech with watching child pornography, then the Rudd Labor Government is going to disagree.”

These comments, to me, strongly imply that Conroy believes the filter will stop the spread of child pornography. Am I right? Apparently not:

Senator Conroy said the Government had never claimed the filter itself would stop child pornography.

We’ve never tried to pretend that this was a silver bullet, we’ve never tried to suggest this was the sole solution,” Senator Conroy said.

The aim of the proposed filtering is to block material that is already illegal and is refused classification, he said.

So he is trying to juggle several opinions at once here:

  • If you don’t support the filter, you support child pornography (ie., the filter will stop child pornography).
  • The filter won’t actually do much at all, we need to use other methods to crack child porn rings.
  • Wait, wait, the filter will block illegal material (including child porn) and refused classification material.

If you have any ideas on how Conroy could reconcile these contradictory opinions, let me know in the comments. I sure can’t work it out.

As a side note, I love how Conroy is now talking about blocking both illegal and refused classification material. I can’t wait until someone confronts him about wanting to block material that he knows is legal.

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?

An oldie, but a goodie

Just in case anyone hasn’t yet seen it:


Downfall was a great movie, but this beats it hands down.

Don’t get too worried about Optus

Optus has renewed its wish to be included in Conroy’s mandatory filter trial.

My understanding is that Optus and Conroy have always been in “negotiations”, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Conroy now starts trying to push Optus to get in on it. He is in desperate need of a large ISP to add credibility to his trial.

There’s no reason for Optus customers to overreact just yet. What they’re saying still sounds reasonable:

  • Optus is participating in order to accurately gauge the impact this type of technology would have on our network.
  • Willingness to participate in the trial does not necessarily indicate support of mandatory filtering.
  • It’s a trial – and designed to test the effectiveness and impact of such filters on a network environment.
  • Optus wants its customers to have a safe experience on the internet and considers cyber-safety an important issue for all internet users.
  • Optus would rather be a ‘part of the conversation’ than not be involved if the Govt decided to mandate filtering.

The only problem I can see is in the answer to the last question, “What about other content like adult content and things the government might like to stop people viewing?“. Optus answers:

  • Optus will NOT be filtering this type of content.

As I’ve previously reported, some of the most popular pornographic websites in Australia do appear on the ACMA blacklist. I think Optus customers should be notified that this is the case, as the current answer is very misleading.

Such are the difficulties for a PR department trying to answer questions about a secret blacklist.

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.