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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Canberra gaze « Previous | |Next »
March 21, 2009

It's hard not to disagree with Leak about Senator Fielding. There is something strange, if not disturbing, about Senator Fielding and Family First that goes beyond their 1950s style conservatism, which is still strong in the ALP. It is to be found on the Labor Right --eg., Senator Conroy on the mandatory filtering of "unwanted" material ---and many of them do sound like the DLP of yesteryear. They disguise their 1950s conservatism and shift to a climate of fear by saying that they are Family Friendly.

Given the contradictions in Fielding's position on alcopops and family values, it is hard to put my finger on the disturbing bit, so I will just leave it to Leak:

LeakFielding.jpg Bil Leak

The good news for the ALP is that Julie Gillard got her industrial reforms through. It is a big political win and should be celebrated as such. Gillard had never let an opportunity pass to squeeze every bit of political advantage out of the Liberal confusion on the issue in the last weeks of Parliament. No doubt the Rudd Government will probably be talking pay restraint soon.

The bad news is that the Labor conservatives (eg., in NSW and South Australia) continueto outflank the Right on the law and order issue, with a distinctive centre-left twist. If the Liberal Right talks in terms of "throwing away the key", "three strikes", etc, then Labor works in terms of clean feeds, censorship, mandatory internet filters, CCTVs and so on. In doing so the ALP has backed away from defending and enabling a freer and more open society--- it has backed away from liberalism as it has increasingly embraced social conservatism that is concerned to silence dissenting voices to net censorship of prohibited content and unwanted material.

The social and cultural conservatism has become explicit as a result of the social dissolution and rupture caused by a neoliberal economics that has produced a society of winners and losers. The ALP right are willing to let the market rip, allow it to change the culture, and then seek to control and reshape people's behaviour, by a toughened up, authoritarian law and order regime that is marketed as "protecting the many against the few". The few are defined as bikes, child pornographers, drug pushers, gangs, graffitists etc

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:13 AM | | Comments (6)


Senator Fielding will disappear at the next election. Hopefully he will be replaced by the Greens who now look like the new Democrats.

Labor got Fielding into power with their preference deals. So they now have to wear the trouble he's causing them. There's not much political strategic thinking by Fielding is there? He's all over the place.

Fielding doesn't seem to realize that policy moves in incremental steps. In siding with the Coalition and the Big Distillers, he jettisoned the concessions won by Xenophon and the Greens. These included mandated warnings on alcohol advertising, a binge drinking hotline and a fund to wean sporting and cultural groups off alcohol sponsorship.

So he scuttled reform steps that he was in favour of, on the grounds that they didn't go far enough.

Fielding plays the role of the fool in the Senate.

Do you think that mandatory internet filtering, the ultra top-secret blacklist of banned websites maintained by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), and the policy of a fine of $11,000 per day that your link to one of the banned websites, is in place is a deal the ALP cut for the support of Family First? that would make sense of Conroy's actions.

A question: How you would know that you are linking to a banned site that is contained on a secret list? How would know that your legitimate business was banned by accident? Once you are on the blacklist, you are on and that is just your bad luck. The only way you can ever know that you are on the list is if some brave whistleblower facing fines and jail terms leaks the list.

you would have to assume that the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy is moving towards implement a "comprehensive digital monitoring service for print and electronic media" with censorship undertones. We are living in a period of social conservatism and the climate of censorship is much stronger than it had been for three decades.

Wikileaks published Australia's entire internet filtering blacklist, which is not even obtainable under the Freedom of Information act, in retaliation after Wikileaks itself was added to the list.

Wikileaks was blacklisted for publishing Denmark's blacklist, together with a press release condemning the practice for lack of public or judicial oversight. An Australian anti-censorship activist submitted the page to the ACMA, requesting it be censored. The activist wished to expose the "slippery scope" of the proposed mandatory internet censorship scheme.

After Wikileaks was blacklisted, the ACMA then threatened high profile tech forum Whirlpool with an $11,000-per-day fine, unless it edited a forum member's posting which linked to the page detailing the Danish blacklist

The Australian communications watchdog ACMA has put some pages of Wikileaks on its list of banned links -- and threatened linkers with five-figure daily fines.

Wikileaks, which is the document repository attached to Wikipedia, had published the list of sites banned by the Danish government. These pages have been put on the blacklist, presumably as part of a worldwide compact between national web censorship authorities.

Should mandatory filtering be introduced by Senator Conroy, then the pages would be blocked for everyone. As would the pages telling you which pages had been blocked. And the pages telling you the pages that tell you the.

So it is beginning to look like a a regulatory regime is morphing into a repressive censorship regime.