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Thread: Internet Freedom/Filtering

Author Image Gerry Patterson. The world's most humble blogger
You underestimate the power of the Dark Side! -- Darth Vader

A New Approach To Communications

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Date: Tue, 14 Sep 2010 20:54:29 +1000

In an effort to lift their game and gain a bit more credibility in the communications area, the opposition has appointed Malcolm Turnbull shadow spokesman for Communications. This probably came about because of their rather disastrous handling of Communications issues during the election, when Tony Abbott delivered his infamous utterances on ABC TV, to the effect that he was "No tech-head" ... And/or "No Bill Gates!" ... And then he proceeded to prove it! By comparison, Malcolm Turnbull would seem to be a shining beacon on the horizon of the Communications wasteland!

Malcomlm Turnbull, recently returned with an increased majority, has established his technical credentials by serving on the board of the Australian ISP, OzEmail. And he certainly does compare favourably with the long line of dismal appointments to the important portfolio of communications. And although the offerings from both sides of politics have been quite dismal, the ministers from the Liberal party, to date, have been appalling.

On the ABC radio program, PM, earlier tonight, Mr Turnbull opened his criticism of the government broadband policy by casting doubt on the cost and value of the NBN project.

With his financial background, he made some good points. And even though many of them may be just rhetorical, the government may have to address some of those points. Admittedly, it is difficult to estimate the value of assets when they are part of "infrastructure" that is mostly virtual. Even Mr Turnbull would admit that people will probably find things to do with a broadband network after it has been implemented, in the same way that we found things to do with electricity, apart from make light-bulbs glow, once we had a national electricity grid! And it wouldn't hurt the government to estimate the value of the network ... It might even strengthen the case of why we need it!

Overall your blogger must endorse Malcolm Turnbull's appointment ... However your blogger can't resist humbly opining that during his time at OzEmail, Mr Turnbull obviously did not learn very much about "Email Headers" (c.f. The Infamous Godwin Gretch Affair). Nevertheless Malcolm Turnbull has always shown a remarkable capacity for re-inventing himself.

However, the biggest impediment for the new shadow communications minister is his own party's policy. The opposition still seem reluctant to admit that to be effective any policy must bring Telstra to heel. Although, during his interview on PM, Turnbull did hint that effective legislation could force Telstra to open their network to potential competitors .. And your blogger supposes that such legislation just might work ... If it had sharp teeth!

It remains to be seen whether the opposition can come up with a proper broadband policy. But certainly the fact that they are appointing Turnbull as shadow minister is a sign that they are taking the portfolio seriously now.

On the issue of the Internet Filter, Malcolm Turnbull said this:

Well I'm absolutely and utterly opposed to it, as is the Coalition. It is a really bad idea from every respect ... I have nothing good to say about the filter. And the best thing the Government could do is drop it. It is a truly bad idea. It will slow down the internet ... And it will create ... I'm afraid to say ... And this is the most sinister aspect of this internet filter ... It will create a false sense of security where parents will think that their children are safe online without supervision because of Mr Conroy's internet filter when we know that the real problems to be encountered, or many of the problems to be encountered online are not going to be susceptible to that filter.

Well your humble blogger, who like Mr Turnbull has nothing good to say about the Internet Filter, is not going to take issue with him about that! This more or less echoes what Hoe Hockey said on JJJ just before the election. And it should force a reappraisal of the seriously flawed Internet Filtering proposal ... But we have said that before ... Haven't we?

Let's hope that the government will also start to take the portfolio seriously. They could start by doing as Mr. Turnbull suggests, and dropping the silly Internet Filter ... Although, if they did, your humble blogger might then not have a reason to exist!

Update: The above has brought a quick response: here.

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