[Censored by the Australian Government]

On Facebook, I enjoy having debates about current issues with friends.  The Australian Government’s proposed filter (aka internet censorship) was one of those where a number of views were put forward. In one sense, the proposed censorship reminds me of the old argument about school libraries banning certain books! We worry about our kids not being able to read, and then we worry about them reading too well!

And given KRudd is spending billions on a faster broadband system for Australia, it seems illogical that from the same portfolio, the new system will be slowed down by a filter (even though, apparently it can be easily by-passed).  As citizens, we sort of expect our government to be logical (we know what illogical governments look like and we know how scary they are!).  After all, we elected them, and they are a reflection of us. I like to be logical, and call me old-fashioned, but I prefer my government, as an extension of myself, to be the same.

If the Liberal party had any sense they would recognise this proposal for the key policy issue it is, and come out fighting. Guaranteed this would motivate the punters, and send quite a few votes their way. That’s not to say that global warming (which is where they seem to be focusing their energy) is any less crucial an issue, it’s just that people don’t really see it affecting them directly, unlike Internet censorship, which does.  If a punter hops on Google and can’t access the information they want/need/require, they won’t be happy.

However, I think the issue in a nutshell is this, and it’s an ideological/hegemonic one, and refers to all political parties. We trust our democracy to act like one, and it isn’t. The 20th Century is rife with examples (and consequences) of democracy gone bad, and these lessons seem to have been forgotten.  Moreover, being an elected representative should not give politicians the right to do whatever the hell they want (John Howard pulled the mandate card with the GST and deregulation of the labour market and look where that got him.  Voted off the island, in the end).

The Rudd government is quoting “family safety” as the main reason for the filter, but I think  the reason is more insidiously simple than that.  For the  government, and from the perspective of maintaining power, it is much “safer”  if people don’t question what you do, or compare what you do with other countries. Lord knows people shouldn’t be having  ideas all over the place, or thinking  for themselves! And if they are too scared (or helpless, or paralysed) then the government can do whatever the hell it likes. Korea anyone?

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