By Andrew Middleton, House of Representatives Petition Coordinator

Stop the Filter.org

May 25, 2010

May 29th / June 5th Street Action details here

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam (pictured, image credit: David Howe) has given a conclusive rebuttal to comments made by the Labor Government’s Communications Minister Stephen Conroy on the Four Corners documentary, Access Denied, aired on the 10th of May, 2010.

The documentary, still viewable online at ABC iView, reveals how an apparently well meaning attempt by [the Australian] government to protect children from video nasties on the net turned into a policy that critics say promotes censorship and reduces personal freedom.

During the documentary, the Communications Minister has the following pledge to the Australian public:

“If a majority of the Parliament in the future want to broaden the classification – meaning of material caught by the filter – well then, Australians should stand up and say ‘just a minute’, and I’ll be one of them.”

To which Senator Ludlam quoted and responded to, just two days later in the Senate:

“Of course, by that time it will be too late. That is the future of this filter: a majority of a future parliament, probably under pressure of some kind of moral panic-whatever that may be-broadening the filter to include a larger scope of banned material and Stephen Conroy standing there in the minority, saying, ‘Just a minute,’ shortly before losing the vote. Once the architecture is in place, the idea that future governments will not be tempted to expand its scope is impossible to entertain. The reasons are technical, as well as political.”

(Senator Ludlam’s full statement in the Senate can be read in transcript, or viewed as film)

This is an important distinction made by Senator Ludlam in why he opposes the mandatory ISP filtering plan, and it’s one that all reading this should consider carefully. Later in the Parliamentary statement, the Senator had this important message relating to Mr. Conroy’s pledge, which is worth emphasising:

“In terms of the minister’s comments about people standing up and saying no if future governments proposed to increase the scope, and saying that that would be the time for Australians to stand up: the time for Australians to stand up is right now, and we are standing up.

Scott Ludlam has good authority to speak as an Australian standing up on the issue of the Labor Govnerment’s mandatory web filtering proposal, having attended and spoke at both the December 2008 and March 2010 rallys held in Perth which were aimed at informing the public and expressing opposition to the proposal. Scott also regularly asks questions and makes statements in Parliamentary Question Time and Senate Hearing about the matter, along with making public statements on his blog and taking media interviews, as he happened to yesterday on the ABC’s Triple J program Hack.

Scott’s message to Australians in his May 12 Senate statement pre-empted the May 22nd National Day of Action, which occured in 3 locations around Australia on both sides of the continent. The campaign for these Days of Action were driven by the official anti-censorship paper petition addressed to the House of Representatives, which now has around 6500-7000 signatures penned in total with 4400 already received by Principal Petitioner Melissa Short. It will be presented to the House of Representatives and put on the public Hansard record on the 21st of June, 2010 with the Australian Petitions Committee accepting signatures no later than the 11th of June, 2010. With this recent extended submission deadline, the decision has been made to ask concerned and active Australians to continue gathering signatures, and for them to be mailed to Melissa no later than Tuesday, the 8th of June. The earlier sent the better, so they can be checked & counted before submission.

Full article here