Dec 23, 2009

Stephen Conroy: Dear Crikey, here’s why you’re wrong

It's fighting words from Senator Stephen Conroy as he rebuts the "disingenuous" coverage of his Great Firewall of Australia. You can't access RC-rated content in newsagencies, libraries, DVDs, cinemas or on TV, so why should it be allowed on the internet? asks Conroy.

In these times of bloggers, citizen journalism and the 24-hour news cycle, quality journalism is under threat. Nowhere is it more apparent than in Crikey.

Its coverage over the past week with regard to the government’s announcement on ISP level filtering has been nothing short of disingenuous.

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128 thoughts on “Stephen Conroy: Dear Crikey, here’s why you’re wrong

  1. John

    I’m all in favour of blocking RC content. Sectarianism rules, OK?
    Well, maybe not, because I’d also like you to block C of E content and all other religious content as well.
    And while I’m at it, didn’t you learn in Sunday school “thou shalt not steal”?
    Well, I own Telstra and you shouldn’t steal it from me!

  2. FunkyJ

    “The only way these subject matters RWB have outlined would fall into the RC category would be if they included step-by-step instruction in self harm or were extremely violent.”

    Just one thing, Mr Conroy.

    In 2007, the videogame “Blitz, the league” was refused classification as in it the player can take drugs to boost performance. No where in this game is there a step by step instruction on how to take the drug – you just press a button.

    In 2008, the videogame Fallout 3 was refused classification, again because it involved drug use. The issue was the us of the real world term “morphine”. Again, it was never a step by step instruction, and this time it did not boost performance – it merely healed the player much like the magic mushroom pickups in Mario games.

    I realise the classification for videogames is different to the classification of books, film, and music, so can you please explain to me what, in the case of the internet, which classification scheme will be applied?

  3. David Higginbottom

    For the sake of further balance I provide this link – Crikey should have added this within the body of the article.

    The departments FAQ can be found here:


    I support debate – but the reporting in this area is often a repeat of conspiracy theories based on background briefings given by those with agendas. This is an area where strong “religious” views – whatever the flavour of those views – predominate.


  4. David Sanderson

    If you have not read the Stilgherrian article linked to above or the infamously titled “Internet filtering: first step on the path to Burma?’ from the previous day then I suggest you do so (look at the comments too).

    You will find excellent examples of would-be crusading journalism gone seriously awry.

  5. Simon Rumble

    “attempt[ed] [to] deflect criticism by implying filter opponents were all card-carrying members of the Child P-rnorgaphy Apologists League”. I have never made this comment

    Okay, you’ve done this trick many times so I call bullshit.

    “If people equate freedom of speech with watching child pornography, then the Rudd-Labor Government is going to disagree” SMH earlier in the year.

    “I trust you are not suggesting that people should have access to child pornography.” Hansard earlier in the year.

    How is this not painting it that way?

  6. Jon Seymour


    In 2003 Margaret Pomeranz attempted to screen the film Ken Park in front of an audience who objected to the RC-rating this film had been given by the OFLC.

    This film is legal to possess and legal view in Australia.

    You have previously stated that your plans only target “the worst of the worst”. Are you prepared to label Margaret Pomeranz “the worst of the worst”, or will you admit that your filter also targets a broad range of legal material that is of interest to normal Australians such a Margaret Pomeranz.

    I invite you to read and respond to a blog post I have written on this subject:


    Your claim that you have never attempted to smear opponents as supporters of free access to child pornography is truly laughable, since it is so clearly documented by the ABC, by Hansard, and by this blog post of mine from January 2008.


    Your words were: “If looking at child pornography is defined a free speech then we are going to take issue with that. ”

    If this is not attempt by you to label opponents of your plan as supporters for free access to child pornography then, seriously, what is?

    You have changed your position, and then denied that you have ever held that previous position, so many times that your attempt to question the credibility of others can be judged for what it is.

    jon seymour.

  7. Andrew Wilcockson

    Could someone please point out to the Senator that he is getting it completely wrong when he says:

    “Keane argues “the trial … saw speed reductions of 30-40%”. In fact one technology tested in the trial returned this result while the remaining technologies returned a figure of less than 10%. Enex has described a result of less than 10% as negligible impact and Telstra has put it into real-time as one seventieth of a blink of an eye”.”

    This is a very disingenuous argument.

    The Telstra quote relates to DNS based filtering, which is based on blocking IP addresses, not URLs. It is also much easier to implement and has a much lower performance impact than the URL based filtering employed in the Enex trial.

    If Senator Conroy wants to accuse people of telling porkies, then perhaps he should first stop misrepresenting the facts himself.

  8. Andrew Wilcockson

    Another big straw man in Senators Conroy is this statement that he seems so fond of at the moment:

    “Let me repeat the government has been clear that mandatory filtering will only apply to RC-rated content. This content is not available in newsagencies, on library shelves, at the cinema or on DVD and you certainly can’t watch it on TV. Why shouldn’t Australian ISPs be required to block access to such content?”

    Why, Senator Conroy?

    Because although it is illegal to sell such material in Australia, it is NOT illegal to possess nor view such material.

    This filter is all about the government getting into bed with the ACL and having their right wing extremist “Christian” morality forced onto the entire population.

  9. Richard Wilson

    One man’s definition of restricted content is another man’s definition of speaking out against the tyranny of the state. Pornography may be defined as the defiling of any image of Kevin Rudd next year, no matter how pompous.

  10. David Sanderson

    “One man’s definition of restricted content is another man’s definition of speaking out against the tyranny of the state. Pornography may be defined as the defiling of any image of Kevin Rudd next year, no matter how pompous.”

    This kind of stuff is so personally and politically immature that it defies any attempt to deal with it other than by complete dismissal.

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