Issues of child pornography and censorship aside, a major question that runs throughout the ISP filtering debate is whether or not voters even care. Senior political analysts think the answer is 'no'.
ABC election commentator, Antony Green, is adamant that the ISP filter is flying way below the radar despite years of lobbying by various organisations.
“I think most people don’t care, don’t know and don’t understand it,” he said. “I think it’s relatively neutral and that 90 per cent of the electorate wouldn’t have a clue what it means.
“I think the Greens think it can mobilise support for them in certain electorates but as a general vote changer it doesn’t strike me as being very important.”
Monash University senior lecturer in politics, Dr Nick Economou, agreed the issue was not attracting attention with most Australians and said it would lose even more coverage as the election approached.
“I just think that now with the leadership change, those sorts of things are going to be pushed by the wayside,” he said. “Does anybody really care?
“It’s one of those issues that really doesn’t bother the vast majority of voters in marginal electorates. I don’t think it’s really going to have much impact – certainly not as much impact as the mining tax.
“The national debate tends to revolve around the standards – health, education, and the economy – things like this tend to get pushed to one side”
The firm statements from these senior analysts will disappoint both sides of the debate, but the anti-filter groups will be the ones that suffer most.
Groups like GetUp! and Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) have been firm in their opposition to mandatory filtering and raised media awareness while attempting to push for mainstream attention.
If the analysts are right and their message has failed miserably to reach the mainstream, then all the effort will largely go towards helping The Greens.
Disillusioned Labor voters in left-leaning and urbanised seats will vote for the only mainstream party that openly opposes filtering.
Anti-filter fans will also lose out because they’re facing conservative bodies like the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), which is an experienced organisation that bends the ear of many high-level politicians at the Federal and State levels.
The ACL is an old-style lobby group that recently told ARN it saw anti-filter groups as being relatively stagnant and minor. While groups like GetUp! raise funds to launch innovative ad campaigns and petitions against the filter, the ACL uses face time with senior ministers, advisors and politicians to promote its pro-filter message.
But a recent vote by The National Party to oppose the filter with a strong majority should give hope to the anti-filter movement. The nominally regional and traditionally conservative political party noted the issue as one of its biggest talking points in recent history.
However, the vote doesn’t force the Nationals to vote against the policy and Economou claimed the group was opposing the measure for the sake of opposition.
“That is the Groucho Marx principle – whatever it is you’re for, I’m against it,” he said.