Is It All Over? Coalition Will Block The Filter

Late this afternoon on Triple J's Hack program, Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey announced the Coalition would act to block Labor's mandatory internet filter if they find themselves in opposition after the election. With the Greens also taking a position against the filter, it is highly unlikely Labor will have any chance of getting the numbers they need to push their legislation through during a next term.

In his interview with Hack, Hockey said:

...we believe the internet filter will not work and we believe it's flawed policy.

In case you think there's any confusion, he also answered a direct question on whether the Coalition would support the filter if they didn't win the election.


He also spoke to the potential misplaced trust in a technology that cannot deliver on its promise and that the Coalition would stick to their plan of giving more control to parents. He added the Liberal Party will have more to say on the subject in the future.

Greens Senator Ludlam was pleased by this news, and the EFA has issued a statement that calls on Minister Conroy and the Gillard government to admit the mandatory filter policy is dead and to "move onto a debate more grounded in reality".

We've been fighting an uphill battle for quite some time on this one. But this news seems to have the undertaker reaching for his nails and hammer when it comes to the mandatory internet filter. No Coalition and no Greens support in the upper house means it will be nearly impossible for Labor to secure the votes they need to ever get this legislation over the line.

Tell us if we've missed something, but this might actually mean the filter fight is over...

Of course, we've thought that before, too...

This definitely raises the stakes at next week's ICT debate!



    Let me be the first to say: Hurrah!!

    haleluja, the choice is so much easier now

      You mean, you can vote Labor in to keep the NBN and the Libs and Greens will guarantee that it wont be hobbled by a pointless Filter?
      That's what I'm thinking...
      (Note, it'll be a Labor vote after preferences. I'm voting Green with Labor just above Liberal and Family First (where Family=Church), last!)

      You're right. Vote for Labor in the lower house and the greens in the upper house (below the line preferencing liberal), because if Labor get in as a government, the Liberals and the Greens will oppose the changes in the senate, and Labor will be unable to pass the bill.

      Voting for the Liberals in the lower house just because of this would be misguided.

    As a technology expert, what is Gizmodo's proposal towards fighting child pornography over the Internet?

    Please contribute with a serious answer. It is quite clear Gizmodo does not support the Filter, neither do I, but I expect also from an opinion leader to contribute with solutions, which is the only way to "fight" against stupid policies.

    It is not all up to the government to solve.

      Step 1: Give a LOT of the earmarked filter funding to OCSET, the Online Child Sex Exploitation Scheme (a department of the Federal Police). These guys do the real and incredibly difficult work of infiltrating distribution rings and catching real criminals. Yet right now they are overworked, understaffed, and we have heard from some sources they are forced to trawl captured image archives manually.

      You're right, we need real solutions. And we're happy to foreground where the real work of stopping these terrible activities actually happens.

        yeah, this. what else can you do... it really is all just random 1s and 0s... need real, intelligent people hunting them down.

        and on the "protecting kids from inappropriate content online front" the net nanny stuff is good. even implement it on the isp level, if only to make it easy for parents. (they just say "yes, we'll have that" rather than having to figure out software, and do updates ect.) opt in of course.

        also, apparently the libs spend 15 million dollars advertising the net nanny... BULLS***!! I didn't see ANYTHING about it!! so improve education too!

      People who want to find this kind of stuff will pretty much always be able to. As for protecting children from things on the internet (the "reason" for the filter) Perhaps parents should take a hand in supervising their children - its the parents job, not the governments. Like having the computer in the living room, rather than their bedroom is a simple way to prevent kids doing things they shouldn't.

      Victor the issue here is that it doesn't stop child pornography. Child porn is not widely traded on the World Wide Web and at least in my experience is just not there, I've never accidentally run into it. As I understand it it is mostly traded through P2P and Usenet groups, both of which the filter does not cover.

      Stopping child porn is the trojan horse to get the filter into our houses.

      If anything not having the filter would be more effective because it wouldn't have the effect of people thinking that the internet is now "safe" and letting their children play unsupervised on the internet because the government has now made is safe.

      Gizmodo's solution for online CP material trafficking has always been the same - spend the money on investigation and enforcement agencies - people who can track down and lock up those responsible for the creation and distribution of illegal material.

      Truth No.1:
      Technological solutions (ISP-based or even PC-based filters of any kind) to the problem are always going to be stop-gap measures at best. Simply preventing mainstream access to this material is not the answer - that just removes the perception of the problem, rather than the problem itself

      Truth No.2:
      CP and other genuinely illegal material is already trafficed underground, because enforcement agencies moniter such things. This material is NOT commonly available online, to the casual user. Accidentally stumbling across such material simply does not happen, and it's patently false for Conroy to claim that it does.

      Quite simply, the filter is a solution in search of a problem....or more accurately, it is a solution in search of justification. The scope of such a filter is always going to expand, and it's fantastic to see that there's enough commonsense around to shoot it down.

    This is a great move from the coalition (never thought I'd say that).

    Conroy appears to still not be getting it though:

    Regardless we still need a Labor government elected if we're going to see the NBN proceed, but if they now can't proceed with their stupid filter on top of it (due to it not being passed in the senate) that is a great thing.

      From the article above: “Let’s not forget the Howard Government’s free PC filter program was a dismal failure, despite a $15 million advertising campaign,”

      Yes it was a failure but it only cost $15 million. Conroy's plan will have wasted over $150 million and make us the laughing stock of the online community. Not to mention the extra costs to ISP's to implement such a plan will increase the cost of internet access.

      If you elect a Labor government, you could still get the filter.

      We have already seen Labor has made some sneaky preference deals with the Greens. Who is to say they wont make more back room deals down the track.

      To get rid of the filter once and for all, you will need to change the government. To change the government you have to vote Liberal.

      Hopefully we will see a broadband policy soon similar to Howard's OPEL. That project would have cost us tax payers nothing close to the NBN and it would have already started rolling out.

        The Liberals make preference deals too, why are preference deals between Labor and the Greens sneaky?

        I've got to agree with simulacrum, voting Liberal isn't the answer to the problem, and with rotten scum like Joe Hockey sitting next to Abbott, it's much more detrimental for the country as a whole to be voting Liberal.

      For a whole host of reasons I'd rather vote for a dog turd than for Abbott, Hockey and the other slimeballs currently in the Liberal leadership (I'm not even a traditional ALP voter).

      Regardless of that though I will be putting Conroy last in my Senate vote.

      Make your own how to vote card:

    Looks like they've captured my HoR vote. I will be writing to my local Liberal member to inform him why I'm voting for him, and emphasising that it is a vote for liberty.

    If the coalition win though... does that not mean they'll still support it?

    In which case, Labour will back it and it'll fly through... no?

    Now if only the liberals weren't out to kill the NBN project we could all go vote right now....

    Does anyone else think that it is ironic that the Libs saying they will block the filter means that it becomes much easier to vote Labor?

      Yeh, I was thinking that straight away.

    Now that's the announcement we have been waiting to hear.

    Complete Labour fail, hello Libs.

      Hello Libs in the Senate maybe...

      Keep the Labor numbers low in the Senate and they can't pass the bill.

      But if Libs win, we have no NBN!

        If the Liberals have the senate numbers to block the filter they can, and will, block the NBN too.

        If the Liberals and the Greens combined have the numbers, they can block the filter.

        Since the Greens support the NBN, they can combine with Labor to pass it.

    Whos to say that the government hasnt already put the filter into use and only said they will delay the filter to distract the public.

    The Liberals don't oppose the filter on civil liberty grounds, they oppose the filter because "It is not going to capture a whole lot of images and chatter that we all find offensive ... that are going through email."

    It sounds like Joe Hockey wants to read our email, and a guarantee not to pass Labour's filter if the Liberals are not elected is not a guarantee that they won't try to implement their own filter if they are elected.

    awesome. now this means that left wingers can still vote labor or greens in the knowledge that the filter still won't go through.

    i sincerely hope traditional left wing voters don't forget all the bad traits of the LNP and vote for them *solely* because of their stance on the filter.

    case in point:

      Nick, you've gotta remember, if Labor win and pick up seats because a lot of Greens voters will be preferencing them 'by default,' the filter could be back in full swing.

      You can't trust Labor and the Greens. We witnessed this last week when they made the shady back room preference deals.

      Unfortunately unsuspecting Greens voters will be passing their votes directly to Labor.

        I think there's been enough publicity that anyone who dioesn't want their Green vote to preference labor is fully aware of what they need to do.

        Plus, in SA, there is no preference deal...

        Green=Labor is not an argument.. If you're politically aware enough to consider voting non Labor/Liberal, you're most likely smart enough to count to 81 (or whatever the number of Senators is in your State)

        Stevo, I think you greatly overestimate the intelligence of the average Australian.

        Sorry Sam but you don't actually seem to understand how our political system works.

        Labor can pick up all the lower house seats they want it won't effect their ability to pass the filter. The Libs and the Greens will still have the numbers in the senate to block whatever they want. The Greens WILL have the balance of power after the election. Its 'almost' impossible for them not to with the numbers they are polling (in fact i think they only have to return one of their two members to likely have the balance of power) And once Fielding is gone Labor will hopefully drop this crap anyway.

        So in short. YES left voters can now safely vote Labor in the lower house and be satisfied they will get an NBN and no filter.

        I don't see how anyone could consider voting for someone who was health minister FOREVER as he rode it into the ground but now suddenly theres a problem. Rode education into the ground in fact most economists dont even think Howard did a very good job with the economy and our surplus should have been MUCH higher..but hey..they were the boss during the good times so that makes them good right?

        As dissapointed as I am with Labor they do seem to inherit government at the worst times globally.

    yay. Now if you care about this country, vote Liberal. Alternatively, vote Greens (but allocate your preferences to Liberal - normally their how to vote cards allocate prefs to Labor.)

    If we get a change of government the next item to address is a bill of rights, so we never have to deal with this again.

      Really? The only person Tony Abbott answers to is the Pope. The last thing he wants is some kind of bill of rights.

        So Tony Abbott gets his instructions from Benedict XVI does he? Did Rudd get his instructions from the Archbishop of Canterbury? What a typically snide anti-Catholic comment from the peanut gallery!


      Even ignoring the NBN issue we still need to support the Greens and other minor parties who oppose the filter. If Family First end up with the balance of power in the senate they could pass the Labor government's filter or force a Liberal government to implement their own filter. All that has changed is that we are now less likely to get a filter from a Labor government than from a Liberal one, but it still depends on the Greens holding the balance of power.

        Minor parties in the Senate can't 'force' the Government to do anything. They can block legislation, but that doesn't mean they can introduce and pass new legislation in the House of Reps.

        But yeah, I'd much rather the Greens hold the balance of power than Family First.

        Minor parties can effectively 'force' major parties to do their bidding by making their support on one piece of legislation contingent on the major party's support for another piece of legislation.

        If they are unable to introduce legislation in the lower house they can have a major party introduce legislation designed or influenced by the minor party in exchange for senate support.

    I have a horrible feeling that the only reason the Liberals will stand against the filter is not because they are opposed to mandatory internet filtering, but rather because they are opposed to the proposed implementation.

    In the last Coalition government (2005), mandatory internet filtering was investigated, but was deemed both too difficult to maintain as well as impacting speed too much. I believe the only reason we don't already have a filter is because Labor was in power when someone worked out how to implement it without affecting speed.

    But then again, and maybe I'm just being idealistic here, I don't think that just because the filter is being investigated, it will be implemented. I have my fingers crossed that it doesn't even come to a vote.

    "will oppose it if they don't win"...what will they do if the do win?

    I don't see the issue as been resolved, nor do I see the opposition fully opposing the idea either.

    The "internet" does not abuse or exploit people. People do that. As far as our legal boundaries allow, we should be pursing the offenders and protecting as many people the best way we can (from been exploited). A filter will not achieve this.

    A social services are seriously out date, out mode'ed and rather useless. We would be better off spending the time and money trying to fix these issues. Technology is a tool, not an answer.

    Excellent. Vote Labor, get the NBN, and no Filter.

      Voting for Labor, even knowing that they can't get their filter passed, would be seen as tacit approval of their policies including the filter. And if they get enough votes to control the senate they can pass the filter without support from the Liberals or minor parties.

      Voting for the Liberals leaves open the possibility that they will introduce their own filter, and given a Family First controlled senate it would be virtually guaranteed.

      We have a preferential voting system so that we can support minor parties without wasting our vote, and can't be forced into binary choices, we should use it to support minor parties who genuinely oppose the filter.

        nsimpson. I applaud you support of minor parties but the proposition you speak of is almost impossible (for labor to control the senate)

        To do that they would need to win 2 EXTRA seats above half and then get Xenophon onside. Considering the greens will easily win one in Tasmania and likely WA and SA (possibly NSW and Vic as well) Labor would need to win 22 of the remaining 35. Then consider the greens seats will likely come from the labor side of the ledger. Its nigh on impossible (esp with their current polling levels)

        heres a nice handy guide for people

        The best news of the senate is Fielding will likely disappear back to god knows where since Labor won't preference him HOORAY. Then Labor can dump the filter too.

        But please vote minor parties. It will send the biggest message to both the libs and labor who both suck atm (my member is an independant thankfully so I dont have to vote for either of them)

        I wasn't saying that a Labor controlled senate was likely, just a possibility.

        Current polling includes voters who threatened to vote Greens rather than Labor because of the filter. There may now be a swing back to Labor. It may not be enough to cost the Greens a senate seat, but if Labor's support goes up because the Liberals say they don't support the filter the parties may see that as support for a filter. My point is that a vote for Labor has not become a vote against the filter, and that voting against the filter is still important.

    sooooo we have knocked the filter off the list! one great step for australia.

    Now lets fight this data retention plan shall we!
    together we can make this happen :-)

    I think its clear that the Libs won't support the internet filter even if they win the election. Same with the Mining Tax and other strategies Labor are trying to implement.

    Aside from this, I would hate to see Gillard get in, especially when she finds it difficult to pronounciate the english language...

    What I find laughable is that if Labor loose the election, Gillard - even tho she's only been the PM for 6-8 weeks by then - will stand to receive all of the ex-PM benefits ($600k salary, office, car + driver, etc, etc....) What a way to wrought the system!


        HAHAHAHA. WIN Daniel.
        I noticed that too.

    Which puppet are you voting for the one of the left or the one on the right. Australian politics is a joke on democracy.

    If this was really a democracy it wouldnt be about voting for a party or a person. it would be how would you like your tax money spend. i.e

    Allocate these 100 points to what you would like to see done by the goverment.

    Roads and Transport: 20
    Education: 30
    Health: 25
    Communciations: 25

    etc etc.

      The problem with that approach is that minorities get left behind, and you can easily end up with massive imbalances.

      Example: It costs a lot more to get reliable communications to distant rural areas than it does to the cities. But if 99.99% of communication funds are voted to improving cities and only 0.01% goes to rural areas, then cities get high-speed fibre and outback stations can't even make a phone call.

    Hopefully we'll hear Abbott confirm this soon as an official policy position.

    That said, if this is true, the Liberals will, for the first time in my life, receive my vote.

      It's disturbing to see what peoples priorities are. Voting Liberal to be against an ineffective Internet Filter, as opposed to say... destroying the GP superclinics, eliminating the NBN, undoing the other health reforms, cancelling the mining tax, cancelling the school programs, a ridiculous parental leave scheme etc.

    The Libs are the only sensible choice for me. Even with Abbott there.

    I was never convinvced by the NBN. It would cost too much, take too long and be almost obsolete by the time it was finished and would still not connect a huge number of Australians in the bush.

    The NBN is analogous to roads. In smaller countries (Like germany, although Germany is more complicated) the Government can build better roads over the whole country because 1)The are geater population densities per sq Km, 2)The countries are much much smaller in area. In Australia we have a huge country and not many people, some of whom live a long way from the next person. To service them all would cost a fortune.

      The infrastructure will not go obsolete. The biggest hurdle is getting the fibre rolled out, once done, it won't go obsolete unless we discover a better and faster communications bearer.

      The hardware at each end can be upgraded as technology improves to get more out of the fibre.

      The NBN is future proofing by the getting the fibre in the ground. This needs to be hammered into peoples heads apparently.

    Anyone else notice the defeatist phrasing? "Block" implies a lack of majority. A party expecting to win a majority would say "Will not introduce"???

    PS. Haven't decided how to vote yet.

      It's not defeatists phrasing, they're just saying that they would block Labor's filter and leaving the door open so they can introduce their own.

      They were specifically asked the question: if they were to find themselves in opposition after this election, would they block a mandatory internet filter. So that's why it is phrased 'block'.

    RT @DrewWiddowson: I'd rather bypass the filter on my 100Mb #NBN connection instead of my shitty 3Mb "ASDL2+" #ausvotes

    Consider when you first started using the Internet (the young ones won't recall this). You had a dial up modem and about a 20Kb/s d'load rate over twisted copper pairs. Today ADSL2+ is available with up to 24Mb/s over the same infrastructure. While most people don't get that speed yet, the simple fact is that no costly infrastructure was needed to achieve the increase in speed. In ten years from now some clever people will have come up with more ways to improve the rate over twisted pairs without blowing 42 billion dollars.

    The NBN is a huge waste of money and the filter is moronic.

      "Do nothing, just in case" Yep, that works. Why upgrade your computer? I mean there's only going to be a better one available next year... etc. ADSL already has massive limitations.

      The "costly infrastructure" was the copper network itself. Before that, all we had was radio and the post. A massive infrastructure project was needed then to hugely boost communications - and now that infrastructure is showing its age. There's only so much bandwidth that can be squeezed out of unshielded twisted pair.

      The NBN is the copper network for the 21st century. It has more potential bandwidth in a single fibre than a whole neighbourhood of copper. We may not need all that bandwidth today, but we will soon, and when we do, we better not still be stuck with copper.

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