Aussie Treasurer vs. QLD Health

Scott Morrison was doing a presser at a local Queensland Health-run hospital to sell his budget. As always he was looking for something to beat QH with to show how badly run and loss making things were in Labor-run health systems.

While ScoMo was checking the books he turned to the executive of the hospital and said I notice you buy a lot of bandages. What do you do with the middle of the roll?””Good question” noted the executive. “We save them up and send them back to the bandage company and every once in a while they send us a free roll. We recycle whenever possible.”

 

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Australian Internet Censorship In Practice

I have previously blogged about the The Great Australian Firewall, which is currently in its testing phase for manadatory internet filtering under the direction and control of the Australian Government (specifically ACMA). In the past few days, things have taken an alarming turn for the worse. I’m going to be slightly vague on some details for my own protection, as I don’t want to risk being the recepient a $11,000 fine and criminal record thanks to the AFP. So I’m only going to point towards public news sources that are reporting the details about this.

The Government, in its new initiative to become the world’s leading Nanny State, has decided that it is their right and duty to tell us what we can and cannot think, say and see on the Internet and other media. And remember kids, these people mostly live in Canberra, the most boring city in the world. Need I say more?

What has happened recently? (Historically? See here). Well ..

  • Bulletproof Networks hosts the very popular Internet forum, whirlpool.net.au. ACMA don’t like Whirlpool, particularly as a lot of discussion about Australian ISPs performance and their views on Internet Censorship, happens on there. A user posted a link to an anti-abortion website which apparently is on ACMAs blacklist. Bulletproof was immediately issued with a takedown notice and a threat of being fined $11,000 per day. Out of the blue of course, because ACMA’s blacklist is kept secret. More information reported in The Australian newspaper
  • Somewhere on the Internet, somebody has posted Denmark’s blacklist. Someone else submitted a link to ACMA aiming to highlight the futility of maintaining a secret blacklist. ACMA responded by blocking access to that website, and their press release about it. US Tech Blog Wired takes up the story.

“ACMA is investigating this matter and is considering a range of possible actions it may take including referral to the Australian Federal Police. Any Australian involved in making this content publicly available would be at serious risk of criminal prosecution.”

  • Coincedentally, whistleblower website, WikiLeaks, has been inaccessible from a number of Australian locations today. Not one to draw conclusions, but they are quoted in The Australian:

While Wikileaks is used to exposing secret government censorship in developing countries, we now find Australia acting like a democratic backwater. History shows that secret censorship systems, whatever their original intent, are invariably corrupted into anti-democratic behavior

Chief Censor Sentator Conroy has aleady admitted his fitering scheme will be used to block legal material as well as illegal material (you know, the kind of stuff you can buy on the top shelves of newsagents – except if you live near a mining site, then its right by the cash register instead). The initial law was strictly to block illegal material such as Child Pr0n* and material that incites terrorism and other evil stuff like that. However now the somebody-please-think-of-the-children thought police have got their way and this has been expanded to “inappropriate” sites … legal gambing sites for example, like BetFair.com, are apparently on the blacklist. Of course, it would not suprise me if the Aussie equivelent of the RIAA, the ARIA, and the MPAA are fevereshly lobbying their cause, persuading Conroy to block peer-to-peer technologies in this filter, fresh on their success in New Zealand.

Unfortunately, the fact that the Nanny State forgets is that as soon as you make something illegal, all that happens is its driven underground. Techologies already exist that will bypass such censorship. Look at drug smuggling which is rife thoughout the world and mostly illegal. Even worse, they also make it more difficult for the authorites to locate and capture the bastards involved in activities such as terrorism and child pr0nography.

My previous position, that this funding should be diverted to the AFP and international legal authorities to track down, capture and castrate (no anasthetic)  people involved in these dispicable acts and then lock them up for life, still stands.

Restricting debate and enforcing your views through legal means on others in a Nanny State solution only drives the problem further underground. More debate here, and here, and here … while we still can.

US Elections: What if WE could vote?

Today Americans go to the polls to vote in a new president.

Now it is a completely fair call to hear comments from Americans such as Who cares? Its our president we’re voting for, not yours. However, for better or for worse, the United States pretty much the only superpower left since the end of the Cold War.

By basically ignoring the will of the United Nations (who unfortunately are good at talking, but not at action), the USA pretty much sets the agenda for the world. For whatever reason, we all suffer when the US decides to set that agenda -whether its illegal wars in the Middle East, or dodgy economic practices and fraudulent activites in the financial sector, or blatantly ignoring the issues of global warming and the destruction of the natural environment; we all collectively have to suffer for the actions of their elected government. America sneezes, the rest of the world catches the ‘flu.

So … three Icelandic guys came up with a thought experiement. Today anyone can vote at iftheworldcouldvote.com. And it is very interesting the results so far. Wether this is a result of media portrayal (unlikely – given most global media outlets are not biased like the US ones are) or by a global disenchantment with the US Administration (which reflects on peoples views about the US in general), i don’t know. But as of the time of writing, and evene acknowledging that the result isn’t totally scientific, 97% of the world wants Obama to be the next president. Time for change.

I believe the world should wake up. The past eight years of a single country’s administration ignoring world opinion on a variety of issues and taking unilateral action. The United Nations needs to get more teeth, or at least another superpower to provide a balance. China in particular could become that superpower, but I personally don’t agree with the communist ideals. Russia seems to be going backwards into the cold war scenario under its current leadership (even if he is no longer the president).

I believe that if Europe could get its act together, stop the internal bickering, put the past in the past (the UK and France are the guilty parties here – move on!) and speak with a common voice, it would be the ideal counterbalance to keep the US in check. And hopefully, we don’t have to suffer the past eight years of agony again.