NBN and the content filter: Two circuses come to town

If you’re looking for entertainment this week, you won’t be disappointed — there are two circuses in town, and they both surround Australia’s ever-confusing broadband situation.

First, we have the ruse that is the censorship debate. I have slammed the media furore surrounding the issue, and I have no intentions of performing an unfounded backflip. But it appears Stephen Conroy, our glorious Communications Minister who has such a heart for children, has forced me into this situation.

For those who missed it, Monday night’s 7.30 Report was meant to be the centre of great debate on the censorship issue, the final showdown in which Stephen Conroy would finally face up to the public. It never happened. Sure, there was an investigative report, but Conroy refused an interview. I understand why to some degree — trying to defend yourself in a negative report by the ABC is like trying to stick your hand in a piranha tank and hoping you won’t get bitten.

But seriously, does he believe that he can just censor Australia’s internet and not even go into detail about what is actually being censored? If censorship occurs and the doomsayers’ claims all come true, it will only be made worse by the fact that the Australian public is in the dark as to what they are being “protected” against. For shame, Conroy, for shame.

But if the censorship debate doesn’t float your boat, there’s a new circus just around the corner, and the ringmaster is none other than our favourite overpaid executive, Sol Trujillo. In an “emergency meeting” where Telstra “bowed to pressure” this morning, the monopolistic telco lodged a last-minute bid for the National Broadband Network.

You’ve got to be joking. Do they really expect us to believe that Telstra are caving to pressure? It wouldn’t be surprising if the press release Telstra distributed this morning was written months ago, set on a timer to be issued at 11.59am. In becoming the fourth contender for what can only be described as a nightmare of a proposal, Telstra has yet again played hard-and-fast with the rules without a care in the world.

No mention has been made as to whether Telstra’s demands will be met, or if the government will follow through on its threats and split the company. Judging by what has happened so far, chances are quite slim that the world will change for the better. It’s just another day in the circus that is the Australian broadband network.

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James Hutchinson

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