NBN liked, ISP filter dogs Labor in election wake

Filter seen as inconsistent with nature of the Web

The National Broadband Network is likely to play a key role in the balance of power with the independents and Greens supportive of the project, however, mandatory Internet filtering remains a bugbear that many of the elected MPs continue to oppose.

With neither Labor nor the Coalition gaining the numbers to form a majority government after Saturday’s election, the outcome now rests with a handful of independents and a Greens MP.

The swing against Labor has been blamed on everything from Kevin Rudd’s eviction to the bungled home insulation project, so it is difficult to gauge the affect of the mandatory Internet filtering policy had at the ballot box.

However, as the policy had the potential to infringe the rights of all Australians its reach was across the entire political spectrum.

Newly elected Greens member for Melbourne Adam Bandt tweeted his party’s support for the NBN only a day before the election saying the Greens is the “only party anti-filter and pro-NBN”.

Unfortunately for the Greens the major parties are split on those two policies with Labor for them and the coalition against.

Independent candidate Andrew Wilkie, who may win the Tasmanian seat of Denison, is also pro-NBN and anti-filter.

“The National Broadband Network will provide essential infrastructure for Australia’s future economic and social prosperity. It must be allowed to proceed,” he said.

However, he believes the proposed internet filtering policy is “inconsistent with the nature of the Web”.

“[It’s] probably unachievable technically in an open society like ours. It should not be allowed to proceed,” according to Wilkie.

“Web users should instead be protected by commercially available filter software, as well as effective law enforcement efforts against those who would seek to misuse the Web.”

Similarly, independent member for Lyne in NSW, Rob Oakeshott, has expressed concern about ISP filtering and its potential to reduce broadband speeds, particularly in his own electorate.

Oakeshott, who is also on the Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety, said Government “command and control” over internet content is an ambitious target, and “trials have been met with mixed success”.

He wants the government to make sure “the balance is right” between maximising the good parts of the Internet and attempting to minimise the bad.

Oakshott has campaigned for more NBN activity to start in regional areas to ease “real capacity frustrations” between his electorate of Lyne and Sydney.

“We will continue to centralise as a country if we don’t get the NBN roll-out right, and hitting the regions early is critical,” he said.

In Queensland, independent MP for Kennedy, Bob Katter, is a supporter of the NBN for better regional broadband services, but technology is not his main area of focus.

Katter’s media advisor said the Internet filter is not something that is on his radar for this election.

“He doesn’t have a position on the Internet filter at this time and his priorities are in rural health and other grass-roots policies,” she said.

NSW independent MP Tony Windsor, who holds the seat of New England, is also a supporter of the NBN, however, his office did not provide his position on ISP filtering.

Whatever the outcome in the House of Representatives, it’s possible the Internet filter may end up being blocked in the Senate, giving the many opponents of the policy a second chance to prevent it.

Rodney Gedda is Editor of TechWorld Australia. Follow Rodney on Twitter at @rodneygedda. Rodney's e-mail address is rodney_gedda@idg.com.au. Follow TechWorld Australia on Twitter at @Techworld_AU.

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Tags governmentNBNFederal Election 2010internet content filteringfilterisp filteringThe GreensSenator Stephen Conroybob katteradam bandtRob OakeshotAndrew WilkieTony Windsor

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