Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Are They Really That Dumb?

Today I received two emails about Steve Conroy's mandatory ISP filtering plan. One of them from someone I have a massive crush on, which usually helps when trying to get petitions signed, no? But I just can't get excited about signing the petition (although of course I sign a lot of petitions that make me depressed rather than excited).

Because this idea is so dumb I kind of hope they do it. I imagine at the moment there is a fair level of support for the idea - I mean filtering out child prOn or stopping kids seeing ordinary p0rn sounds like a good idea huh? But the consequences will be so disastrous, and so ineffective, that any government that does it is going to take some serious heat. And not just from a small minority of libertarians and techno geeks who're currently worried. No if they actually do this thing everyone who uses the web will hate them. Which is a lot of voters.

Ok the heat will be shared because the Coalition will have voted for it too, but the government will still get the blame, and the Greens in particular will stand to benefit.

So what is going on? Well one possibility is that they are so stupid they don't realise what a disaster it will be, despite every technical person warning them. Well it is Stephen Conroy we're talking about here, but its still a bit hard to believe.

Next option is that they can see the train wreck coming, but are so stubborn they just won't let go. Ahh, here's the part where the Steve Conroy bit starts to make sense. Still, surely there are more senior ministers who aren't willing to throw away 5% of the vote and the country's economic competitiveness to satisfy one man's obsession.

Which leaves us with option three. They know it is a dog, but for the moment a popular dog. So what they want is to be seen pushing it as much as possible, and then have it sunk by someone else. They can say "we tried, we really tried" to all the people who think it is a good idea until they have to use it, and blame its failure on someone else. Since the Liberals and Greens are both currently opposing the idea that works well. It probably won't hurt the Greens - they'll lose a few votes, but gain a roughly equal number.

On the other hand the Libs will probably be hurt whichever way they go. Vote against it and they will be tarred with supporting kiddie fiddlers or something. Vote for it and they will be part of the problem that put the country into the computer stone age. But if they let it through they'll be a small part of the problem, with Labor getting most of the blame.

So the whole thing becomes a giant game of chicken, watching to see whether the Libs lose their nerve and wave it through.

The country may have changed a year ago, but wedge politics didn't die.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


It's probably impossible to make any genuinely original contribution to one of the biggest stories of all time. So I'll leave it at this short note on one point I haven't seen made explicitly before or after the election:

Besides all the other reasons to celebrate, its worth noting that one of the hardest jobs in the world right now must be being an Al Queda recruiting agent, particularly in Africa. That has to be good for almost everyone.