The Labor party has delayed its internal vote on mandatory filtering indefinitely and revealed the draft bill has not been completed. The vote was originally expected to be held mid-March.
According to a spokesperson for the Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, the final draft to be considered by caucus will be completed after considering the 174 submissions it received on its filtering discussion paper.
“The submissions will feed into the development of the legislative framework,” a ministerial statement said in March. “Once these processes are complete, the legislation will be introduced into Parliament.”
Government Senator, Kate Lundy, has spearheaded a movement to use internal Labor politics and force the bill to let Australians choose if they want to be filtered. She said the party had not seen any draft legislation and was waiting on Senator Conroy to release it.
“When it didn’t happen in the last sitting fortnight, the expectation was that it would happen in the next sitting period in May,” she said. “It’s completely up to the Minister’s office when it gets released.
“The feedback I’ve got is that the legislation is still being drafted, but I don’t know the status of it or the timing. I’m ready for the debate when it occurs.”
But despite her willingness to take up the fight during internal debates, Senator Lundy said she would not go against her party in a Senate vote to prevent the legislation going through. According to Monash University senior lecturer in politics, Dr. Nick Economou, Senator Lundy is fighting a battle she has probably already lost.
“It’s a party rule that caucus can direct ministers on policy, but for political reasons, it rarely happens,” he said.
“I feel it’s very unlikely that any attempt to try and divert Prime Minister Rudd and Senator Conroy would succeed. Firstly, it would be a terrible embarrassment for two very powerful members of the Government and secondly, Rudd and Conroy will feel they have the vast weight of public opinion on their side.
“Presumably, she’s doing it because her constituents would expect her to do it. But I think Conroy and Rudd have their eyes on the outer suburbs where the marginal seats are very conservative and easily spooked on matters of Internet nasties.”