Leader of the Family First party, Senator Steve Fielding, is one of several key independents the Government needs to pass policies in the Senate. His party is also a supporter of mandatory Internet content filtering. ARN asked him about ISP filtering, Telstra separations and his recent efforts to bring call centres back onshore.
Do you support a mandatory ISP filter as proposed by the Government?
Steve Fielding (SF): They’re still working through their various trials and we’ll see what they come up with in the end, but generally Family First believes there should be some sort of filtering on the Internet. Every other medium we have has some sort of filtering, and it’s just another medium. When it’s in the printed form as adult magazines, they’re covered in dark plastic and it’s up to consumers whether they want to take the plastic off.
Many critics argue it’s the parent’s role to protect children and that these controls shouldn’t be placed on all Australians. What’s your opinion on that?
SF: We’ll have to see what the Government proposes, but there should be some sort of filtering on the Internet.
Do you support the NBN?
SF: $43 billion is a heck of a lot of money to spend on a National Broadband Network (NBN) and it’s important we get it right. There’s no doubt Australians want faster speeds. The question is how much is that going to cost, and how much they’re prepared to pay. That’s what we’re debating at the moment.
Are you opposed to having fibre to the home?
SF: That’s the debate we’re having. I’m concerned about the $43 billion price tag, because it’s a lot of money.
When would you like to finalise details of the NBN by?
SFThe debate we’ll have in a couple of weeks time is to do with how to set-up the best environment and establish good faith negotiations in regards to Telstra separating some of its business. Next year, there will be another debate on the NBN itself.
As I said, $43 billion is a heck of a lot of money and it’s not something I think you should want to rush into quickly. That’s why I think you’ll see that decision coming up early next year but that might take some time to actually work its way through.