Media Release: Monday, December 1, 2008

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) today called for bipartisan support for the Federal Government’s plans to filter the Internet at service provider level, saying that in the interests of children this issue should be placed above party politics.

ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace urged the Federal Opposition to throw its support behind the proposal which will see the mandatory blocking of child pornography and other illegal material, with an optional filter of material which is inappropriate for children such as pornography.

“This will not mean the ruin of the Internet or lead to absurd forms of censorship as some people with clearly vested interests are suggesting,” Mr Wallace said.

“Child pornography is both illegal and immensely destructive and it is entirely appropriate that access to it be blocked, along with other illegal material. The blocking of other degrading and damaging material will be optional, but offers an important safeguard for families worried about their children inadvertently coming across this material on the Net,” Mr Wallace said.

“Claims the Government will impose China-style curbing of free speech are ridiculous given Australia’s robust parliamentary democracy, something China does not have.

“Technology is improving all the time, meaning that the impact on Internet speeds is likely to be minimal, a small price to pay for protecting children and the community from too easy access to increasingly explicit material.”

Mr Wallace welcomed the strong support for the ISP filtering expressed to ACL today by Hetty Johnson of Bravehearts, a leading child protection advocate. Ms Johnson said that Internet filtering is a critical prong in moves to protect children and that clean feed technology must be an available option for the many thousands of Australian households who want it.

She added that the problem needs to be tackled on all fronts and was never intended to be a ‘silver bullet’. This is why the Federal Government’s $125.8million cybersafety plan includes education, law enforcement including 91 new AFP appointments, research, the Cybersafety Working Group and the Youth Advisory Group.

Mr Wallace also noted the other child welfare and family groups who reportedly supported the proposal, such as Child Wise and the Australian Family Association.

“Australia is taking a huge step forward to benefit our society in progressing with Internet filtering plans. The Federal Opposition has in the past shown their concern about children accessing pornographic and other problem material on the Internet and we urge them to show their full support for ISP filtering.”

Media Contact: Glynis Quinlan