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Conroy on Keane: cheers or jeers?

Crikey readers weigh in on Stephen Conroy's response to Bernard Keane and the internet filter, clueless economists and the SA election online comment debacle.

Conroy on Keane: cheers or jeers?

Tim Villa, an IT Manager at the University of Western Australia, writes: Re. “Conroy: we know filtering isn’t a silver bullet solution” (yesterday, item 17). Stephen Conroy’s response to Bernard Keane is somewhat disingenuous if his justification for Google cooperating with the government is that “it should be noted that Google has operated within the Chinese regime for many years. It also abides by the laws in Thailand requiring it to filter from its search results any criticism of the Thai king…”.

Way to go, Stephen, you’ve gone and put yourself into the same bucket as the Chinese autocracy and a monarch that bans personal criticism!  Bit of an own goal, don’t you think?

Colin Jacobs, vice-chair, Electronic Frontiers Australia, writes: Stephen Conroy response in today’s Crikey focused on some details — which is proper — but he continues to leave the big issues on the table. The Minister’s assertions that “filtering is one component of the policy” and is not “a silver bullet” serve only to engage the filter’s critics, but they don’t actually explain what the filter will really accomplish or why we should want to accomplish it in the first place.

The idea that a lot of RC content is undesirable isn’t contested – what is contested is whether there’s a plague of the stuff bombarding hapless Australian netizens, and that it needs to be addressed with an expensive filter that raises so many free speech issues. There is no such plague, and if there were, the proposed filter would not make one iota of difference. By this stage, I’m pretty sure the minister knows this, too.

He also wrote that we (at EFA) either “don’t know or are wilfully misleading the public” about what RC-rated content is, by deliberately attributing a quote by the secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders to me.

The fact remains it’s not all b-stiality, inc-st and child abuse, despite what we’re lead to believe. It’s a lot broader, and then unnerves people concerned with free speech rights.

Jason Craig writes: I’m still not entirely convinced with the argument but I would like to voice my admiration for Stephen Conroy (or his office) actually taking the time to debate policy in Crikey. Maybe he could suggest the Climate Cage Match to Penny Wong…

The hoons of A Current Affair:

Jeff Ash writes: Re. “I auditioned for the Stig; all I got was ACA lies (yesterday, item 3). Another typical tabloid media folk devil beat-up. Granted Carlo shouldn’t have been using open public roads for his audition video, but hang on, don’t Clarkson and the boys do the same thing on their road trips?

I can’t wait to see how 9 ruin the Top Gear Australia franchise further. The talk of Warnie hosting wasn’t exactly heartening. Maybe there will be guides on how to s-xt pommy slappers while driving?

Clueless economists:

Drovers Cat writes: Re. “Ask the economists: RBA’s surprise interest rate pause”  (yesterday, item 4).  So economists are all over the place making excuses now the Reserve has shown them up for the overpaid charlatans they are.

As a slightly more mature first-home buyer I am still reeling from the statement by one of these alleged seers a while back that rates should be “back to 8%” by year’s-end, no problem. Well sorry pals, but that means seventeen 25-point rises at $50 a month for me, or another $220 a week or so to stump up.

Sure, you can sanctimoniously look down at we FY “owners” and preach that we should have known what we were getting into. Well we did — and we will be able to afford the rises.

And yes, of course we figured rates would change over time. And yes, we figured the recession and lower rates would last a bit longer, not realising that governments would actually buy all the bank junk and pretend like the banks “it’s all better now”. Sure…

But it’s a bit rich to be suggesting no-one will be bothered by their income being affected by a rise of $220 a week inside a year as things quickly get back to “normal”.

Maybe as you sit in your palaces in Vaucluse/Mosman/Toorak or wherever, having had some cheap loan off your bank employers to square your pile in record time, the real world is just that little bit too remote from you.

Or maybe you’re all too busy watching Miranda.

And next time, Crikey, for the sake of accuracy get some astrologers to predict the next Reserve Bank decision.

SA, censorship and blogging the election:

Julian Zytnik (his real name) writes: Re. “SA Attorney-General says ‘break the law‘” (yesterday, item 11). People are entitled to be concerned about the SA law change requiring ID for bloggers during election campaigns. The right to anonymity is vital, and there is some sad history of commentators being hounded and threatened for their political views.

But critics are still left with two big questions: (i) how do we deal with the problem of people exploiting the cover of anonymity to firebomb internet debates with lies and virulent personal attacks; and (ii) if anonymity is so precious, why do most prominent media outlets, including Crikey, not allow it in their conventional letters sections?

We need to be clear about what we are trying to achieve here, and be consistent in our approach. Perhaps the long-term solution is to allow anonymous comment across all media, but require the publisher to distinguish between the two so the readers can make their own minds up.

Bruce Hore writes: I would be less stressed about the move to call out the identities of participants making comments in the election process if I saw that the same rules applied to the Minister concerned and if the Minister (via his staff) had not been alleged of intimidating constituents.

In the last few months he has;

  • regularly withheld his address in letter to the editor contributions — citing personal security
  • sued several opponents for defamation in land transfers now subject to an Ombudsman’s inquiry into approval for benefit conflicts and
  • his staff have been accused of demanding names and addresses of participants in a legal protest – captured on television news coverage.

Case in point, he is suing an opponent Rina Russo for $23K in damages and legal fees, partly because he believes that Ms Russo is the source of the approval for benefit allegations raised in parliament by an Independent MP.

Nope, nothing suspect going on here.  This not an environment that encourages open speech or disclosure in our political system.

Dads and divorce:

Samantha Kennedy writes: Re. Chris Lehmann (yesterday, comments) Chris’ response did touch me and maybe I am angry only because he could have started his original letter not attacking a group watching over woman’s rights.

I could write a list for him why he shouldn’t but instead I would like to tell him: one of the most important people in a girl’s life is a good father (no matter how bad the circumstances), sadly this is never publicly recognised.  All the woman in my family are feminists and we all know this for a fact.

We’re all dying:

Jackie French writes: Re. Jenny Morris (yesterday, comments)  I’m dying. I hope I’ll take another 80 years to get the job done, but there is no denying it: we’re all on the slope down to death. Dying is the one thing we humans manage to do with 100% success.

Dying rarely costs much; nor does palliative care. Denise Marcos (Tuesday, comments) mistakes the costs involved when expensive surgical procedures  try to prevent death with those of caring for someone when death is near.

If we really want to save money, we could stop all intervention unless the odds of recovery are  good. Don’t operate on Grandma unless there’s an 80% chance of a productive life for a decade? Forget about Uncle Arthur’s broken hip, his dicky ticker will finish him off in a year anyway?

The real ‘costs’ in making medical decisions like these aren’t financial. They erode our social compassion, our sense that the two real purposes of civilisation are to care for the young and protect the weak, sick and dying. Some costs are too high to pay.

Clearing up the tipsters:

Paul Guy writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 7) About the story “In Qld if you can’t pay a traffic fine…” The writer is saying that you have to pay $52 extra to pay it off through SPER. I copped a speeding fine in November 09 and paid it off using SPER and I didn’t have to pay any extra. I think the complainant should check his/her facts.

Jim Hart writes: I’m curious to know how you decide what goes in your tips and rumours section, and if you ever read them first to see if they make sense.

Today we have yet another breathless report from a Qantas passenger about an  “incident”, this time involving “a last-minute ‘go around’ (an aborted takeoff)”. which happened because “the pilot said he got within seven minutes of the next aircraft”  but our reporter thinks “it was possibly worse”.

You don’t have to be Ben Sandilands to know that a go-around is an aborted landing, not a take-off. And seven minutes separation? At seven minutes before landing the cabin crew were checking that the seats were in the upright position so perhaps it was seven seconds not minutes?

So this tip/rumour is probably about a landing not a take-off and the separation may have been seven seconds not minutes. But it is worth mentioning? A “last-minute go-around” is not only a tautology; it’s also a standard procedure. It can be a bit surprising for the passengers at the time but it gives you something to talk about at the luggage carousel.

You don’t have to write to Crikey about it. And Crikey doesn’t have to repeat it, at least not without running it past the common sense scanner.

Doug Clark writes: I was on it too and while I was pissed off at the 25min delay — with a 9am appointment in town — it wasn’t ‘violent’ (in fact I slept through it) and it was 7km not 7 minutes (between flights).

Happy to bag Qantas if justified, but this was a little OTT.

Oogling Obama:

Sally Davis writes: Re. Peter Longhurst (yesterday, comments). I agree: I thought Obama must be looking at an auto cue as he is just so fluid with his oration. After having watched the State of the Union address — where the camera pans away from the President, you can see that there isn’t an autocue in sight. Quite intriguing, really.

Jenny Batesman writes: Obama will be an interesting experience as a global political celebrity that will bring a very popular boost to our prime minister’s image as “cool.” Watch the media and others jump on the bandwagon for a fun ride when he visits our shores and hope that he gets asked some questions of depth and substance by journalists not be swept up by all the hype of the Obama brand!

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2 thoughts on “Conroy on Keane: cheers or jeers?

  1. Niall Clugston

    Regarding anonymous commentary, is “Verity Pravda” (Truth Truth) not a pseudonym???

  2. Verity Pravda

    More probably “Truthful Truth.” Interesting that you should post that here given that Crikey has never pretended not to take anonymous commentary. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, both Christian Kerr and his successor Bernard Keane both first wrote to Crikey using psuedonyms. Crikey thrives on anonymous tips and rumours.

    The implication is perhaps that Verity works for Government. Verity doesn’t. Verity is however very interested in the topic of anonymous contribution to political debate and has written a little about it on her ooccassional blog.