Tag Archives: Australian Christian Lobby

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Would you like salt with that?

My WebSalt article about the Greens is now up. You should go over there, read it, and argue it out with me in the comments… It’s much more balanced than my regular blogging fodder because it’s not polemic – it’s balanced… I hope.

“But there is much in their policy platform to celebrate – an Australian Christian Lobby media release issued prior to the 2008 election praised the Greens for their strong stance on climate change, refugees, overseas aid, work life balance and poverty. These are important issues – and should be serious concerns for biblical Christians.” “The criteria that determine an individual’s political preference will come down to personal convictions – that’s the fundamental freedom offered by a liberal democracy. So voters need to decide for themselves whether caring for the poor should be the government’s concern or the church’s? Or whether we should impose a Christian ethical framework on non-believers? Can we vote for a party that purposefully pursues an easing of restrictions in the circumstances surrounding the termination of the lives of unborn children? Just how much of a concern is the environment?”

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Common sense prevails

The ISP filter has been scaled back from any black listed items to just Refused Classification content – which some people have argued was their policy all along (particularly one debate on Craig’s blog. It may well have been – but that was poorly communicated. Here’s the SMH story.

“Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has long said his policy would introduce compulsory ISP-level filters of the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s blacklist of prohibited websites.

But he has since backtracked, saying the mandatory filters would only block content that has been “refused classification” (RC) – a subset of the ACMA blacklist – amid widespread concerns that ACMA’s list contains a slew of R18+ and X18+ sites, such as regular gay and straight pornography and other legal content.”

I’m a lot less worried about that – it seems to be much more transparent than the previously stated policy. I’m sure my freedom loving friends will still have problems, as do the Australian Christian Lobby. Nice work guys…

“The lobby’s managing director, Jim Wallace, wants the Government to introduce legislation forcing internet providers to block adult and pornography material on a mandatory basis, in addition to illegal content. Australians would then have to opt in to receive legal adult material.”

That sounds nice. It really does. Pornography is a blight on society. And it would be nice to protect vulnerable people (particularly vulnerable Christians) from its insidiousness. But. It isn’t really up to Christians to make the laws in a country where we are in the minority (despite the number of people ticking the Christian box on the census). Why should we expect those given over to sinful desires (which is surely how the Bible describes the state of non-Christians) to conform to a Christian standard of living?

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Black spot on clean feed

I’ve said it once. And I’ll say it again. The clean feed is bad for anyone who believes in freedom of speech. I think it’s especially important for Christians – who are one of the driving forces behind the clean feed concept – to know what it is they’re supporting in the case of this policy.

The government’s internet watchdog – ACMA (the Australian Communications and Media Authority) can blacklist whatever they want. It doesn’t have to be “objectionable” content (read child abuse material) – unless the government definition of “child” now extends to an unborn fetus – which would have grand implications for the abortion debate. You see an abortion protest site has just been added to the blacklist – as reported by Crikey. 

This content is hosted outside Australia, outside ACMA’s jurisdiction, so they can’t demand it be taken down or guarded by an age-verification mechanism. They can only add it to the blacklist — and under Conroy’s plan, everything on the blacklist is blocked, secretly, for all Australians. No choice.

“The Government does not view this debate as an argument about freedom of speech,” says Senator Conroy.”

No, of course not. As the government has pointed out, it’s about preventing the exploitation of children. A noble cause. It’s when the government refuses to allow criticism on the policy on the basis that anyone objecting is tacitly approving of the child abuse that the discussion breaks down.

“”Freedom of speech is fundamentally important in a democratic society and there has never been any suggestion that the Australian Government would seek to block political content.” Conroy said here

Well yes there has Senator – that’s been the grounds of all the rational objections to your stupid, and technologically flawed, legislation (well that and the fact that it’s unlikely to work and it’s just going to punish everyday users of the Internet… ). 

The abortion site is pretty nasty. While I agree that abortion is one of the great moral debates of our time, I wouldn’t recommend going there. I did. It wasn’t pretty. But that’s not the point. Once “objectionable” includes “things we disagree with” the Liberal Party better make sure their policies are consistent with Labor’s, or they’ll be banned.

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Tanner’s hide

Finance and Deregulation Minister Lindsay Tanner is Web 2.0 enabled with a blog over at the SMH. Today’s post is all about the government’s new Web 2.0 based thinking – they’re probably going to use blogs in some upcoming community consultation. Ironic really, given that the same government is advocating restrictions to the internet that would put us on par with China. Perhaps comments they don’t agree with in the consultative process will be blocked? Or the IP address taken down and the perpetraitor (sic) silently removed from their homes and literally excommunicated (possibly a removal of Internet privileges).

Here’s Tanner’s rather convoluted description of what he thinks about Web 2.0…

“This new mode of production is known in the academic literature as peer production, but is more commonly referred to as Web 2.0. It is a trend that applies to much more than the creation of cultural goods, although these goods, such as the innumerable YouTube video mashups which poke fun at politicians, are acting as the harbingers of change.”

“Peer production empowers every citizen to be creator and critic, as well as consumer, of information. It is a mode of production that is enabled by two key factors. The first is the collapse of cost barriers to producing information – computers are now widely accessible in western society. The second is the removal of logistical and functional barriers to collaboration through new internet based networks.”

“The glue that binds peer production together is the ethic of collaboration it inculcates among groups. People contribute their time to peer production because they find communities with a passion for making their adopted content niche the best it can be.”

“This environment also creates efficiencies by allowing skilled amateurs to allocate their intellectual capital to the content niche about which they are most passionate. This is significant when you consider the quality and value of work done by people for love and not money.”

All in all, his article is a pretty garbled way of saying the Government is down with the Internets and all that.

“These changes are not easy for government to process. Our Westminster bureaucracy has optimised its policy production processes over centuries. Adaptation to the new information environment will be neither quick nor easy.”

I guess that’s something Obama can relate to.
Here’s his obligatory dig at the Howard Government:

“The Australian Government should be leading the way in adapting our old processes of consultation, policy making and regulation to the connected world. Yet we lag behind other nations in both the scale and pace of reform, a situation largely attributable to the culture of secrecy, spin and apathy of the Howard years.”

“I am taking steps to reinvigorate the Commonwealth’s efforts in this area. For example, early in the new year the Government will run a number of trial online consultations using blogs and other Web 2.0 tools”

You know what would be brilliantly ironic – if all this consultation got blocked by the Government’s proposed clean feed (a very bad idea – putting us on par with China in terms of restrictions) with it’s invisible blacklist of sites. My disdain for the Australian Christian Lobby is growing – I think they miss the point on so many issues when dealing with a secular government and trying to impose Christian values on the general public – who generally aren’t Christians. I acknowledge that as Christians we believe our way of life is better – and more in line with God’s expectations – but it’s not for us to impose our code of conduct on the rest of society. I also acknowledge that increased consumption of pornography has some links to increases in sexual violence and is socially undesirable. But I don’t think this is the way to tackle it – and I don’t think – as Jim Wallace so tactlessly put it that opposing this plan is tantamount to supporting the evils that lurk in the dark corners of the internet. Here’s the quote from the ACL Media Release.

“Obviously the Internet industry is going to continue to fight this important initiative

but the interests of children must be placed first.”

“The need to prevent access to illegal hard-core material and child pornography must

be placed above the industry’s desire for unfettered access.”

Censorship is bad. Particularly for the church. Once you start advocating censorship what happens if a militant anti-Christian or Islamic party gets in and adds all the Christian sites to the black list? Have you thought about that ACL? Have you? Christians who are serious about Christianity’s real agenda – which is the proclamation of the gospel can not be supportive of Government intervention into the minds and beliefs of the general public.
By all means, if you’re a Christian then take part in the political process – but don’t pretend to speak for all of us – and do so to raise your opinion on a matter – not to demand legislation be based on a Christian world view. That is not in the spirit of democracy – that’s a theocracy.
Oh, and if you want to voice your opinion on this matter through the press (or the Government’s upcoming Web 2.0 consultancy process) – the ACL has a handy letters to the editor writing guide.
I’m going to do some work now.
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Evening the scores

Well humble reader it has been some time since I’ve posted here – some would say too long – others would not have noticed the gap. I’ve been posting with growing irregularity since being burdened with an extra workload at work – and an extra load of work outside of work.

Those of you who are now my Facebook “friends” – as if that somehow gives you more status than my real life friends – will know that I haven’t been idle when it comes to maintaining an online presence. And I’m happy to report I now have more than 100 fb buddies… it seems I came to that party pretty late.

The extended gap between posts means that I now actually have some news to report. Last Saturday we were approved for a lease on a nice little 3 bedroom townhouse in Pimlico – it’s pretty functional and has its own access gate to the shared pool.

This followed a hectic week of house drive bys, inspections and robust discussions. Our favourite place – at first – was a nice, modern Queenslander. We both inspected this house prior to applying and even bumped into the owner as he did his gardening – we were confident that we’d get the nod. However, we were looking for a 12 month lease – and the owner was only really prepared to give 6 months. He was also planning to build in underneath the house in that period. This house was advertised as having two garages – which would have disappeared within weeks due to a money hungry landlord who basically wanted to fund his rennovations via tenant. We were offered the house yesterday and turned it down. Stupid real estate agents.

So K-Rudd got down and dirty in New York on the tax payer’s dime. Farbeit from me to let an opportunity to dig the boot in to either side of politics – particularly on such a public indiscretion. I won’t tear strip(er)s off Kevin Rudd for his nocturnal dalliance – I note the Australian Christian Lobby was also eager to affirm the fact that we all are in fact fallen and sinful. I will however point out that the media’s eagerness to feed off the situation – whether it be Glenn Milne’s initial condemnation or the chorus of defenders who surfaced on the left’s side of the debate – perfectly demonstrates the point Jim Wallace from ACL made. On one side you’ve got stone throwers eager to beat K-Rudd down in a hail of self-righteous rage – on the other you’ve got those overly eager to associate themselves with whatever wrongdoings possible in order to diminish the perception of misconduct everywhere. Paradoxically, when it comes to commenting on this situation you’re damned if you do – and damned if you don’t.

Personally, I think when it comes to elected represenatives we’re probably entitled to throw a few stones. At that point we’re not judging the man himself – but his ability to do that which he was elected to do – that is present the country in the best light possible. Evidently not something he’s achieved here, or here.