on mandatory internet filtering

In Australia there are, at times, some remarkably good ideas. Despite the fact that the rest of the world hasn’t yet figured out Vegemite, the platypus or that thongs are things you wear on your feet, we are a country as known for its oddness as its innovation.

For some time now, our federal government – under the (dis)able(d) direction of one Senator Conroy has been seeking to introduce a system of mandatory internet filtering.

Not surprisingly, the good folks over at Amnesty International have had a little to say on the matter of civil rights, as have at least 120 000 Australians who have signed a petition hosted by GetUp! – an organisation with more members than any political party in the country.

I’ve had a great deal to say about this over the past twelve months, and yet, for some obscure reason, my government doesn’t seem to be listening.

So, this time around, with yet another idiotic attempt to sneak legislation into parliament over xmas, I figured it was time to take a slightly different stance.

Much as there are enormous issues in the US of A, at least your constitution has enshrined some pretty decent principles (and no, the right to bear arms is not amongst them, although Eddie Izzard has a remarkably astute observation about how to deal with that chestnut).

Below is the full text of my letter to Senator Conroy – be thankful (if you’re not in Australia) that you don’t have to deal with this sort of stupidity.


Dear Senator Conroy,

Keeping this email civil is unquestionably going to be one of the greatest challenges in my twenty some years of professional communication; however, as an Australian I’m keenly in tune with the idea of ‘having a go’.

Which is, I presume, the central underlying principal for your continued championing of an idea that has proven wildly unpopular with the Australian public, as well as a significant number of highly respected child welfare agencies, civil liberties organisations and business associations.

We all love a battler, after all, and what better way to win the hearts and minds of the Australian public than to set ones self up in this way?

Sadly, it seems, you have forgotten that every coin has two sides, and that it’s only in rigged games of two up (or public consultation processes funded by the Australian Federal Government) that the two sides are not heard.

The flip-side for you, I imagine, is the other Australian trait of knowing when ‘enough’s enough’. A trait that seems pathological in its absence from your dealings with this situation.

Australia is a nation that has long prided itself on its strong public infrastructure and the quality of life this has afforded us. No public hangings or Tienanmen Square for us!

Yet somehow, it seems, that despite not expecting to see tanks running over students in Martin Place any time soon, you are committed to introducing a system of internet filtering only currently in use within communist China.

Recently I have been afforded the opportunity to live and work in the United States and, despite the fact that the ‘home of the brave and the land of the free’ is looking paradoxically overweight and underfed, I discovered a level of communications infrastructure that supported me in running my companies across half a dozen different time zones and wound up costing me less than if I had been here in Australia.

Funny that – the largest capitalist economy also has remarkably robust and rather cheap communications infrastructure …. who would have thought?

Naturally, all good things come to an end, and so this letter can’t drag on forever. So I will close by saying that I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains – I’m just not so keen on those individuals who think that government exists not so much to represent the will of the people, but that it’s role is to do fundamentally retarded things with my money.

Your tenacity to this project is admirable – unquestionably. To continue driving forward in the face of sweeping public opposition, to be mocked and ridiculed on blogs and news sites and yet to keep pushing this barrow requires a particular type of personality. Whether you are an idiot or savant remains for history to determine.

I wish you all the best with your future endeavours, whether in politics or IT sales; with your commitment to selling the unsellable, it is unquestionable that you will continue to be successful.

All love and respect,

Cameron Burgess

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