Opposition Treasurer, Joe Hockey, has said the Coalition would vote against a mandatory ISP filter if it lost to the Government. The move makes it highly unlikely for the Government to implement the controversial measure.
“We believe the Internet filter will not work and we believe it’s flawed policy,” he told ABC’s Triple J program. "It’s not going to capture a whole lot of images and chatter that we all find offensive.
“ISP-based filters do not work and they therefore it creates a whole level of assumption of trust that cannot be met by the technology.”
The Shadow Minister then spoke with ARN at a Sydney fund-raiser, where he confirmed how his party would move against the Government’s proposed filter.
“We will not support the mandatory ISP filter,” he said. “It’s in line with my previous comments and it’s in line with what you’ll see in the next few days.”
In a statement a spokesperson for Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, refused to stop supporting a mandatory ISP filter despite the Coalition’s opposition.
“The Gillard Government does not support Refused Classification (RC) material being available on the internet,” the spokesperson said. “The current online content regulations regarding prohibited content were introduced by the Howard Government in 2000.
“Joe Hockey needs to explain why RC material hosted on overseas websites should be available, while RC material on Australian hosted sites is not.”
The Australian Christian Lobby has pushed hard for a mandatory filter to be implemented. Its managing director, Jim Wallace, said he was disappointed by the Coalition’s move and that the group would be pushing hard in the final weeks of the campaign to change the party’s mind.
“I’m clearly disappointed because he made the statement that this won’t work and yet the trial proved that it will work,” he said. “The party has made its decision on wrong information.
“We’ll certainly be advising all our supporter base and they’ll be very disappointed...we will be trying to influence the party to change its policy.”
He also refused to acknowledge that the issue was dead or that the anti-filter movement had won and said the ACL would not give up.
“The Labor Government is certainly still committed to it so it’s a point of difference between the parties,” he said.
But National Party deputy leader and long-time ISP filter supporter, Senator Barnaby Joyce, said the numbers were against the measure and that it was probably permanently dead.
“It’d be disingenuous of me to say that I’m not concerned about paedophilia going not only to my house but other people’s as well,” he said. “But I’d say it’s probably the case [that the measure will never get off the ground]. The reality is the numbers are not there and the Greens will most likely hold the balance of power.
“Some things are above politics and you’ve got to see what you can do to stop acts that destroy the life of a child and affect those who are watching it.”
Greens communications spokesperson, Senator Scott Ludlam, said he was delighted and saw it as a win for the his party and other groups opposed to the filter.
“If Mr. Hockey’s comments are a serious statement of policy, then the filter campaign is probably over,” he said. “I think it’s a victory for a crowd-sourced online campaign, the likes of which we haven’t seen in Australia before.
“This one is bigger than the Greens and a lot of people have piled in and lent their weight to it so it’s a victory for the community.”
Ludlam said he was not worried about the ACL’s continuing efforts for a filter, but added that people would need to be vigilant about similar moves in the future.
“This has been quite a personal on for the Minister, I would suggest, but... this isn’t the first time this kind of thing has come up,” he said. “Rather than recriminations we need to do what we were planning to and keep proposing alternative ideas so that we have a more constructive debate from here on.”