Turnbull redfaced after filter policy "clusterf**k"

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Friday, 06 September, 2013

Turnbull redfaced after filter policy "clusterf**k"

On the eve of the election, the Coalition yesterday announced and then was forced to immediately back down from an opt-out policy for internet filtering.

A policy paper quietly released yesterday originally called for internet filters to be installed and switched on by default on mobile phones and modems sold to Australian consumers.

But the policy lasted only hours in this form before Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull issued a statement denying that the Coalition supports an opt-out system.

He put the parts of the policy calling for an opt-out system down to poor wording, stating that the Coalition will instead encourage mobile phone and internet services providers to make filtering software available to parents who choose to install it.

The filter policy was developed by Liberal MP Paul Fletcher, who hours before the backdown had given an interview to ZDNet confirming the policy and explaining the justification for the filter system.

A Liberal Party insider told Fairfax Media that the circumstances surrounding the release of the policy amounted to a “massive clusterf**k”.

The Fairfax story explains how Turnbull had to use a pre-scheduled radio debate to defend the policy, despite only learning about the policy hours earlier. This defence was made doubly embarrassing by the fact that he had been so critical of Labor’s abandoned internet filtering plans in the past.

While Tony Abbott had read the policy, he claims not to have scrutinised the section dealing with filters closely enough.

Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey meanwhile admitted he knew nothing of the filter policy during an appearance on Channel Ten’s The Project.

Labor has unsurprisingly jumped on the gaffe to insinuate that the Coalition is keeping some election policies from Australian voters.

“Libs saying they are sorry their hidden Internet Filter policy slipped out -what other policies and cuts are in bottom drawer[?]”, Deputy PM Anthony Albanese tweeted from his @AlboMP account.

Image courtesy of Brandon Grasley under CC

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