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.


Leah says:

I would agree that Christians cannot suppose to impose their code of conduct on wider society, except when what they’re fighting against is going to be detrimental to society or to a person’s basic human rights. (eg. gay marriage, gay parentage and abortion).

Nathan says:

I’ve got to ask on what basis gay marriage is detrimental to society? Some would argue it’s detrimental to the human rights of gay people.

I know personally I wouldn’t go getting myself a gay marriage – and that’s on the basis of my religious beliefs (and my sexual preference) – but I don’t know that we can hold onto the Christian definition of marriage and enforce all society to comply.

I do believe there should be some sort of positive recognition of the traditional family unit and its child producing capacity – and some this will naturally take the form of “discrimination” in a sense. But I also think it’s important to afford homosexuals the same legal and human rights given to heterosexuals – particularly in terms of financial recognition of committed relationships. I don’t know that the bible teaches on this matter specifically – except to say that Christians shouldn’t be gay, that the created intention was for male and female to be in relationships, and that homosexuality is a sin.

I don’t think we should be legislating against sin – I don’t think that’s the job of a secular government, and it’s inconsistent to have those rights mentioned above extended to de facto relationships but not gay ones.

benny says:

“I would agree that Christians cannot suppose to impose their code of conduct on wider society, except when what they’re fighting against is going to be detrimental to society or to a person’s basic human rights. (eg. gay marriage, gay parentage and abortion).”

so are you saying if something is going to be detrimental to society, or to a persons basic human rights, then christians should impose their values?

so how much of the decision of what is detrimental to society or human rights is determined by christian values?

in god’s (apparent) country, abortion was decided (in roe) on a human rights issue. you may have also noticed the last few days the discussion of gay marriage has come back up (well this bit is pretty hard to miss), but on top of this the debate on whether marriage is a christian concept has arisen.

the arguements include marriage is a christian institution (apparently it was a word invented by the catholics from what ppl have said, you may be able to confirm this), non-christians who have been civily married seem to suggest that this is reason enough to denounce marriage being a christian concept, and others argue that gay-marriage should just be called something else.

Many others argue that marriage far predates christianity, which to an extent I agree with. While it may not have been refered to as “marriage”, the characteristic of marriage of a partnership between a man and a woman I think was quite likely around for a long time before christianity became the craze. These partnerships may not have been undertaken before god and whatnot, but they were partnerships. Considering many recognised marriages made today are not before god seems to suggets that current society has just borrowed the “marriage” word and moulded it and expanded it to suit its own needs. it wouldn’t be the first time christian words have been adopted in English with distorted meanings that differ from their original intentions. So it seems a bit of a case that Christians are willing to let some ppl to use their word but not others. Seems kind of petty.

Okay, I’ve been a bit distracted by the examples you gave. So, should Christians impose their code of conduct on society. it seems to me that if something has been decided as being detrimental to society or to basic human rights then its likely to be a view more widely held than just Christians. I know Christians are vastly morally superior, and set the example everyone should all strive for, but i would hope that something that is perceived to be “detrimental” and against “basic” human rights would be a widely held opinion, even for those dirty athiest pigs with no understanding of the concept of morals. Again on that note, is gay marriage going to destroy the pillars of society or impinge a person’s (which person?) human rights?

As usual this discussion touches on the role of representatives in represenative government. Taking your logic, a christian elected to parliament (by an electorate) should adopt a christian code of conduct for issues that are going to pull society apart at the seems as well as the non-seems or stomp all over basic rights. Disregarding that fact that that criteria seems to give open slather for christian representatives to adopt christian views on whatever issue they deem fit, the mindset it gives elected officials doesn’t seem overly inducive to the consideration of a country with a vaste palat of cultures and beliefs. There is no rigid seperation of church and state in Australia, which i think is a good thing in some respects, as it is a difficult concept at best and I am not sure it is good to place a mindfield of restrictions trying to force good decisions (the decisions will hopefully be good with or without them). However, this leads onto the topic of how should elected officials act as representatives.

I would like to speculate a little, and wonder what would happen if their was a big christian push to legislate (or possibly even attempt a constitutional amendment) covering any of the issues you have mentioned. I think you would find that both abortion and gay marriage would have a tough time being legislated against (I think it would rely on a group of bold, righteous christians having majority in parliament, which is quite likely even if it isnt representative of the populace at large). However, both issues have vaste majority support in Australia, and a referendum for a constitutional amendment to ban either would result in a noteable failure.

Now, I am all for parliament passing legislation that does not have majority support of the populace. The legaslatures role is to legislate, each of the legislature get a vote, so I would hope each of the members voting on a piece of legislation understand the implications of the legislation much better than a member of the public. Despite the fact each member is elected by an electorate, their role as a member of the legislation is to legislate for the entire state (nation), and all the people in it. I don’t think promoting elected officials setting legislation via transposing personal beliefs is at all a beneficial exercise to anyone. I find it sad that in the US, catholic representatives are hounded if they are pro-abortion. These people have managed to differentiate their role as a representative and their own beliefs. They may get labeled as not christian enough or whatnot, but they have fulfilled the role of a representative of the people. They have been given a bill, they have looked it over, and decided that it is not necessary (or in this particular instance maybe decided it is not the elected representative bodies place) for this piece of legislation to be imposed upon society. They may bind themselves by a christian code of conduct in their own lives, but they have recognised that the role of a representative it not to impose personal beliefs, but to set legislation for an entire populace. If an elected official goes into office using religious values to determine when to impose their own beliefs and then how to make decisions concerning legislation, this is not inducive to good governance at all.

Nathan says:

Thanks Benny, useful thoughts. It’s a very long comment.

I agree with parts of it. I do think that abortion is a different kettle of fish to gay marriage.

I think the creation account is indicative of the thinking of God in creating the world – ie that he does define marriage as between a man and a woman. If you read my comment though you’ll see my latest opinion on gay marriage – ie that Christians can’t impose their beliefs on wider society in what is now a secular, legal institution as much as a religious institute. Marriage has a different meaning in Christian ceremonies – as you rightly point out our ceremonies are conducted “before God” – I would have a problem with legislating that churches must perform gay marriages if called to do so…
maybe churches should step away from conducting marriage ceremonies except for Christians?

On abortion – I think for Christians, who believe that human life – not just “life” begins at conception or in utero – the abortion fight is about protecting the right to life of unborn children.

I think it’s narrow minded in the extreme for policy makers to be considering the need for abortion laws on the basis that
a) people are doing it anyway, or b) nobody actually likes abortion but it’s a handy safety net for those not in a good position to raise a child (what is a good position? The human race would have died out if that attitude prevailed in previous eras),
c) it’s the right of a woman not to be pregnant (I would have thought the proper solution to that would be to not have sex… or use contraception, or get surgery,
d) the misguided idea championed by the liberal side of society that while abortions may not be nice, it’s up to the individual to decide,
e)that nobody really wants abortions so legalising them won’t see an increase in terminations.

None of these seem like a convincing justification for the termination of hundreds of thousands of human lives every year.

Mr Snuffle... says:

Except I don’t really see it as ending a human life, I see it as ending the life of a small group of cells.

This is where we fundamentally differ on the topic, and I’m really not sure there is much room for debate on this one. If I thought the value of a human life was the same at 30 as it was at conception, I’d be a pro-lifer too, but I don’t, so I’m not.

I’m a little blurry on where I personally draw the line on where I wouldn’t be comfortable supporting an abortion… probably somewhere in the third trimester, but I acknowledge that’s a fairly arbitrary choice on my end.

Nathan says:

It’s the arbitraryness of the decision that bothers me.

If I was convinced it was just a bunch of cells – or could even pinpoint where I thought I could draw the line – then I’d be much more open for debate – but I can’t.

And I don’t know anyone who can without sounding callous.

On the other hand – in the case of pregnancies threatening the mother’s life I know that’s a tricky question. I would think that honouring my marriage vows to protect my wife would mean a pretty tough decision… but that’s a rare situation and I think legislation should protect the right of the people involved to make that call.
I don’t think open slather on abortion is the right way to do that.