Filter an example of Rudd's Whitlamesque stupidity: ISP chief

Reactions to Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey's startling revelation last night that the Coalition would vote against Labor's mandatory internet filtering policy -- likely dooming it to fail -- continued to roll in this morning, including one from outspoken filter opponent and Exetel chief John Linton.

Linton -- who runs one of Australia's significant smaller ISPs -- has been a strident opponent of the filter right from the early days of the policy, describing it in a memorable commentary in November 2008 as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's plan to "cleanse the Reich of anything he designates as undesirable so that the kinder can safely be indoctrinated in the preferred ways that he deems any citizen of the Fatherland should think and act"

Today in an emailed statement Linton said Hockey was simply stating the obvious yesterday -- "that the proposed internet filter would do nothing and was simply another example of Rudd's stupidity and his silly attempt to 'buy' Senator Fielding's Senate support".

"The fact that Rudd forced Conroy to persist so long," added Linton,"and Gillard has done the same, is one more demonstration that the Labor Government is a re-run of Whitlam's 'amateur night'."

Internode chief Simon Hackett described the situation as "amusing" in a comment posted online. "So we have the current government supporting the NBN (good) and the deceptively pointless filter (bad)," he said. "And we have the opposition opposing the NBN (bad) and also promising to kill the deceptively pointless filter (good)."

"What a great example of damned if you do, damned if you don’t, eh? Do you hate the filter more than you love the NBN? Tough call."

Other ISPs -- notably Telstra, Optus, Primus and iiNet -- have also been asked to comment on the Coalition move, but Telstra has declined to comment on the political situation, and the others have not yet responded.

However a number of other interested parties have commented on the situation, with responses ranging from jubilation on the part of anti-filter campaigners like the Greens and Electronic Frontiers Australia, and derision from the Australian Christian Lobby and the office of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.

“This announcement is incomprehensible on a number of levels”, said ACL managing director Jim Wallace. “Joe Hockey needs to explain why refused classification material hosted on overseas websites should be available, while RC material on Australian hosted sites is not,” said a spokesperson for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.

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