The Broadcasting Services Amendment (Online Services) Bill 1999 sailed through the Senate last week and is on its way through the House of Representatives for approval.
Welcoming the swift passage of the legislation through the Senate, the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Richard Alston, attempted to dispel industry concerns the Bill will slow ISP offerings and retard the growth of e-commerce in Australia.
"The Bill meets the Government's objective of helping protect Australian citizens, especially children, from illegal and highly offensive material, but it does so without placing an undue burden on the Internet industry," senator Alston said.
Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) has criticised the legislation and has planned a series of protest marches across the country. Danny Yee, EFA board member, said: "We saw it coming but it's hard to believe they went ahead and did it."
Despite agreeing in principle, the ALP has voted against the Bill, sparking a scathing response from Senator Alston.
"In these circumstances, the decision by these parties - especially Labor - to not only vote against this Bill but to fail to suggest an alternate approach, despite their clearly stated understanding of the need for a regulatory framework, is impossible to understand," he said. "Labor should explain to Australian parents why it prefers no regulation to help protect children online."