Over the course of a conversation, Australian’s have this frustrating habit of expressing how happy they to be living in Australia. To some extent I can empathise. Australia is free from civil war, attacks from arrogant and militarised neighbouring states while being relatively excellent place to live, lacking in both pollution and overpopulation. The food is good, the people are fun and generally friendly, the cities are interesting and are full of things to discover. The problem is that Australians have this strange way of missing, or ignoring, anything that threatens the upbeat image of this country in what seems to be an effort to maintain a certain naive image of reality. Even when there is outrage, it’s only temporary and when it is decided from some high-up post that, once and for all, things should be a certain way, the dissent dies people go back to their BBQ’s and draping themselves in the Australian flag on Australia Day or during the cricket season.
Just for example, in between playing the part of the little dictator and working to achieve his vision for South Australia, Mike Rann (whose wikipedia entry reads like a election-day pamphlet) has gradually turned the state into the nation’s premiere example of foot-in-the-door fascism. I say this merely because over the past few years, the Rann government has set about abolishing double jeopardy, creating legal loop holes that subvert the right to remain silent, has allowed for organisations to be branded ‘criminal’ without the ability to challenge the label, concerned itself with all kinds of nanny statism, allowed illegal immigrants to be imprisoned within the state, regularly taken steps (both official and unofficial) to make achieving a full driver’s license extremely difficult and costly — and that’s just for starters. It’s ironic that the state founded on the idea that it should epitomise a respect for civil rights, democracy and the best of the Britain could fall so far from the tree. But there’s even an irony in that as Britain’s come a long way with it’s massive surveillance systems. However, I digress. The point is at state level there’s an ever-present danger that government in Australia is advancing leaps and bounds towards a police state and where you can find evidence of something in a small sample, you’ll be able to find it on a larger scale elsewhere.
You don’t need to look very far either, for the federal government has constructed a prison on a remote island off the coast to incarcerate illegal immigrants until they can be “processed” — which is a term that seems to mean treat these people like criminals until they’ve been ran through the bureaucracy like bits in a computer processor — and continues in it’s ridiculous plan to produce a nation-wide internet filter which bring it into line with the likes of China, Burma, Pakistan and all the other dictatorial nations. When ideas like these start cropping up, you know there’s a problem. Australia has always been notoriously pro-censorship and not very user friendly when it comes to free speech, which itself is a horrible crime. The Australian government has taken it upon itself to ban books, art and intimidate writers of various forms in the past, even recently. While free speech isn’t protected in Australia, which allowed the Howard government to pass sedition laws in the anti-terrorism legislation, political freedom of speech is guaranteed in the constitution under the iffy term ‘implied human rights’ but was only established during a trial in the last few decades. To all intents and purpose censorship is entirely legal and I’m sure that if political freedom of speech became a problem there would soon be created a loophole. Though if we are to take the following writer’s words for truth, it could be that you won’t be hearing from me soon enough — at least if you’re in Australia — as a legal loophole wouldn’t be needed to have me and others censored, just the poor practical implementation of a rigid technology,
The Minister has stated that political speech will not be filtered under the proposal, but fails to define acceptable free speech and does nothing more to articulate his previous comments that “unwanted” material will be filtered under the scheme.
The Minister notes that in the last round of tests, overblocking, that is filters blocking legal content came in at 3-6%. He only notes that this is an advance on previous tests, but fails to address the very serious implications.
Under the scheme, three to six percent of perfectly legal content gets blocked. Anything other than a 0% rate is unacceptable.
Imagine the Australian Government waking up one morning and deciding that 6% of Australian businesses could no longer open their doors to their customers, and the outcry this would cause. This is EXACTLY what this proposal will do to online businesses, and companies with a primarily Australian focus online could find themselves out of business for no other reason that the Government’s filter has decided to block them, even though they were doing no wrong.
So it’s conceivable that my blog, as well as the blogs of other Australians, may become trapped on some government blacklist, whose selection process is being kept secret, and will then no longer be visible to other Australians. That is even if my connection functions fast enough to even log on, write and update this blog. Nanny-statism is a wonderful phenomenon of the modern age. As one commenter on the above cited article pointed out,
it is ridiculous. the gov want to control our lives. soon we wont be able to walk in our own back yards because it would be to dangerous and harmful to children…
Though he went back on this thought, he was indeed spot on. When this system is implemented we will see ‘difficult’ political critics being added to the list, effectively silencing independently published criticism of the government. It’s an inevitable result of legislation and government ‘programs’ that they’re initially applied for one purpose or emergency, but then the power granted to that various government department is never given up. When the department finds it has little to do, the powers are then recycled in another way and so take on another function, such as an internet filter designed to block ‘child pornography’ being used to block the more general ‘unwanted’ material. This ‘unwanted’ material will no doubt be described as extremist, terrorist, racist and those with an ‘anti-Australian’ agenda, or something similar. Considering that the word ‘terrorist’ is loosely defined (I could easily and accurately label any military terrorist as I could the KKK or Osama, unlike politicians who label anyone they don’t like ‘terrorist’) no doubt many sights that bear the label ‘Anarchist’ will find themselves removed from the internet. Even the word ‘extremist’ throws up some interesting complications when you look at the meaning of the word, ‘radical’…
Taken From Here
- extremist: (used of opinions and actions) far beyond the norm; “extremist political views”; “radical opinions on education”; “an ultra conservative”
- a person who has radical ideas or opinions
- revolutionary: markedly new or introducing radical change; “a revolutionary discovery”; “radical political views”
- arising from or going to the root or source; “a radical flaw in the plan”
So, although I don’t take to ‘radical’ to be a bad word based on definitions 2, 3 and most of all 4, that has attained a far more villainous meaning, care of politicians who use ‘radical’ interchangeably with the word ‘extremist’ means we have a very twisted definition. Any political stance that exists outside of some brand of conservatism, socials democracy, liberalism or statist socialist is ‘radical’ , therefore ‘extremist’ and no different from the ‘Islamic extremists’ who are ‘terrorists’ and like to blow people (along with themselves) up. Therefore they must be ‘censored’ so ‘democracy’ can continue.
It seems to me that Australia, or at least it’s administrative government, is plagued with the same mindset that must have existed since the administrations that presided over the first convict colony. You know, those guys in wigs backed by British marines with muskets who laid down a flag and claimed everything as far as the eye could see as ‘theirs’ — the usual routine back in those days. We have never really broken out of that psyche, particularly as there always seems to be some new effort under way by governments of differing proportions to keep us in line. Lest anyone mistake this to be an appeal for reform, this is not. The Australian government, in every degree or incarnation has repeatedly shown its true colours in its complete disregard for liberty. Be it Hicks, Haneef, the pacific solution, the children overboard scandal, Iraq, Afghanistan in little Johny’s administration, or now in Kevin’s the continued presence in Iraq and Afghanistan (even though we were supposed to be out of Iraq) the prison-like detention centre and now this disastrous internet filter proposal that has been allowed to proceed — and these only within the first year of Rudd’s term! No, you can’t reform that: the structure is rotten.
It’s amazing that the vast majority of Australian’s aren’t paying any attention to such issues. Mostly there is indifference while people go back to their beer and allow themselves to be shocked into submission by yet more stories of shootings, stabbings and violent murders. Then they conclusively announce, “government is for our own good,” and we are one step closer to prison sentences for the crime of spitting.