Friday, August 06, 2010

Hooray! Australia's conservative coalition undertakes to block internet censorship

And even the Greens approve! So it's dead. It can't get through the Senate with both the Greens and the coalition opposed. The Labor party obviously has a tin ear to have kept insisting on this widely deplored scheme for so long. They obviously could not see past the great Leftist vision of ever-increasing control over the lives of ordinary people

The Liberals have finally spoken and it's music to most internet users' ears. Joe Hockey's public denunciation of Labor's controversial mandatory ISP filtering plan late yesterday was warmly welcomed by the Greens and others.

The opposition treasury spokesman late yesterday told ABC Radio's Triple J that if elected the Coalition would scrap the filter scheme. But even if Labor won the August 21 poll, the Coalition would not back the filter legislation. Mr Hockey said the policy was flawed and the technology doesn't work.

An Abbott government is likely to reintroduce NetAlert, a Howard-era program that offered parents free internet filtering software.

Greens communications spokesman Scott Ludlam said the Liberal party should be congratulated for finally declaring its hand. The Nationals had previously stated they would not support Labor's plan.

"The decision belongs to the huge number of people who contributed to a tenacious, self-organised campaign that stretched from online civil libertarians all the way up to the US State Department," Senator Ludlam said. "The ALP should drop the censorship proposal rather than fighting what now looks inevitable. "The Greens will work with any party in the parliament on constructive cyber safety proposals. At last that debate can start properly," Senator Ludlam said.

Influential lobby group GetUp declared the filter "dead, buried and cremated". "Regardless of who forms the next government, we know that mandatory internet filter legislation won't pass Parliament, with the Coalition, the Greens and independent Nick Xenophon all opposed to it," GetUp national director Simon Sheikh said.

GetUp was not alone in its crusade against the filter proposal. “This was a coalition campaign including groups as diverse as Save the Children, Australian Lawyers Alliance, National Arts and Culture Alliance, human rights groups including Amnesty Australia and online activists like Electronic Frontiers Australia. Everyone will be celebrating today,” Mr Sheikh said.

Labor wants ISPs to block refused classification (RC) web pages on a secret government blacklist but the policy has hit several roadblocks since first pledged in the 2007 election.

In early July Communications Minister Stephen Conroy ordered a year-long review into RC processes and said the filter legislation would not be introduced until the review was completed. The government has always said it would that at least 12 months after the passage of legislation to implement the filtering scheme. If Labor is re-elected, ISPs will be forced to start blocking RC content from 2012.


It's OK to tell police officers to 'f*ck off'

NSW magistrate Pat O'Shane ruled similarly in Oct., 2005 but she is full of anger about the treatment she experienced in her early life -- which she attributes to her small degree of Aboriginal ancestry. So she is very anti-police generally -- and that general hostility would cause her rulings to be seen as not setting much of a precedent. This case would appear to be more influential as a precedent, however. Interestingly, O'Shane grew up in Far North Queensland not far from where the following ruling was made.

A Queensland magistrate has ruled that it is acceptable for people to tell police officers to "f*ck off". Magistrate Peter Smid yesterday threw out the court case against Mundingburra man Bardon Kaitira, 28, who swore at a female officer outside the Consortium night club on December 20, last year at 2.40am, The Townsville Bulletin reports.

Constable Belinda Young gave evidence that Mr Kaitira used the swear word twice towards her after a group of officers patrolling Flinders St East poured out his girlfriend's drink. "The defendant said 'f*ck off' and starting walking away and I asked: 'What did you say?'," she said. "He said 'f*ck off" again and then said: 'I don't like the police you think you are all heroes'.

"I told him it was an offence to swear at an officer and gave him two choices - a fine or be arrested." Mr Kaitira opted to be put in handcuffs and taken to the watch house.

After winning the landmark case he explained outside court why he pleaded not guilty - despite admitting to swearing at Constable Young. "On the night it was completely over the top and I didn't think it was fair," Mr Kaitira said. "Most people just cop a fine but I didn't want to do that."

The defendant instead read through hundreds of similar legal cases before employing a leading criminal barrister and a solicitor to take on his public nuisance case at a cost of $4622.11.

It was worth it for the horticulturist as Magistrate Smid said he was not satisfied Mr Kaitira committed an offence and police could be liable for his legal bills. "The defendant spoke normally, he had his hands in his pockets and walked away," Magistrate Smid said. "It's not the most polite way of speaking but those who walk the beat would be quiet immune to the words."

The magistrate said overall the conduct of the defendant was not a nuisance to the public because it didn't interfere with fellow night club goers.

"It was overkill by the officer who was not offended anyway," Mr Smid said. "But she pursued him clearly annoyed he hadn't shown remorse."

Defence barrister Justin Greggery said the case was "doomed to fail" from the start, arguing that saying the f-word to police was "not an offence". "It was simply f*ck off - a common enough expression which wasn't descriptive like f*ck you or you f*ck," he said. "Really the word has lost its affect due to its use in books, films, and general speech."

Mr Greggery added that police were trying to criminalise language, which set a dangerous precedent. "When they try to set the bar this low they are saying the word f*ck is criminal conduct," he said. "This is language they use themselves on the job (while arresting offenders and to other officers)."

However, police prosecutor Sergeant Richard Scholl argued Mr Kaitira's code of conduct was offensive and stinging towards the policewoman. "He displayed behaviour and made jibes with the intention to insult. Police should be shielded from this type of language and the community cannot accept it's OK for a private citizen to tell police to f*** off," he said.

Queensland Police Union President Ian Leavers agreed and called for an urgent appeal of the case, which could set a precedent in Queensland law. "It is a sad day when the courts and government say it is OK to use four letter words at police," he said. "To say it's OK to use offensive language at police in the street, who are just doing their job makes, no sense at all."

Mr Smid will decide today whether the Queensland Police Service will cover Mr Kaitira's legal bills, which legal counsel later reduced to $2527.50 after a successful outcome. By law the maximum amount that can be reimbursed is $1500.

The case follows that of Sydney student Henry Grech, who was cleared in May of an offensive language charge against police after a local court magistrate ruled the word "prick" was part of every-day speech.


Australian police must not co-operate with countries that have the death penalty?

This is another example of chronically confused Leftist thinking. Indonesia has the death penalty and on other occasions the Federal Australian Left has been falling over itself to increase co-operation between Australian and Indonesia!

Indonesia is a nation of over 200 million Muslims and is virtually on Australia's Northern doorstep so any sane Australian Federal government would be doing its utmost to preserve good relations with them. What is reported below can only alienate the Indonesians. One can only hope that the instruction concerned will be rapidly withdrawn

THE Australian Federal Police has been told to consider the impact its investigations have on Australian citizens when working with countries that apply the death penalty.

Yesterday's instruction was contained in an official ministerial direction by Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor and was an apparent reference to the AFP's role in the Bali Nine drug case, in which nine young Australians attempted to smuggle heroin into Australia from Bali.

Arrested as they were leaving Indonesia, three of the group - Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran and Scott Rush - were subsequently sentenced to death, The Australian reports.

Their fate provoked savage criticism of the AFP, which co-operated with Indonesian authorities to bust the 2005 conspiracy.

The direction, which updates a set of instructions issued in August 2008, sets the AFP's law enforcement priorities and outlines the strategic framework in which the Government expects the AFP to operate.

It instructs the AFP to "take account of the Government's long-standing opposition to the application of the death penalty in performing its international liaison functions". It is the first time such an instruction has been included in the ministerial directions.

But former Howard government minister Philip Ruddock described the new instructions as "very problematic".

Mr Ruddock, who was Australia's attorney-general at the time of the Bali Nine case, said the instruction would apply to a range of crime types, such as terrorism. "That's really saying that in relation to potential terrorist events the AFP cannot provide information to the Indonesians," Mr Ruddock said.


Labor 'saved Australia from the global financial crisis' - says headline-hungry Leftist economist

In his hunger for headlines he occasionally even talks sense but he is well known for his rejection of free market thinking so his opinions below were pretty much what were to be expected from that orientation.

Some of his statements below are plain crazy. He blames the GOP for the GFC when it was Democrat-sponsored legislation requiring banks to lend to high-risk minorities that was at the root of it

THE Federal Government's economic credentials have received a timely boost from Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, who suggested Labor may be best placed to take the country forward.

Professor Stiglitz, a former World Bank chief economist and economic adviser to the US Government, said Federal Labor did a fantastic job of saving Australia from the global economic crisis.

At the same time Professor Stiglitz criticised right-wing politicians for being the "architects" of the downturn. "One of the reasons why the debate about...Australia's so important is not because we're historians and we're trying to grade but because we're trying to make a judgement about going forward who is likely to do a better job," Professor Stgilitz said. "What are the economic theories, advisers they are likely to draw upon? Labor's done a good job."

Professor Stiglitz said economic advisers who had been praised by "the other side" of politics were the ones who had designed America's "economic mess." "To praise the people who were the architects of the global financial crisis suggests that your economic ideas might lead this country into difficulty," he added.

"Whereas the others (Labor) actually did a fantastic job of saving your country from problems."

Professor Stiglitz said he supported the objectives of the Government's mining tax but was not surprised resource firms objected. "The clear objective is one that I supported when I was in the Clinton Administration and our attempt to do a very similar kind of thing," he added. "Having watched what happened in the US I'm not surprised at all what's happened here; the mining companies do not want to pay their fair share."

But he said he was surprised at the resonance the resource firms' arguments have had.


Westpac to pay $50,000 for wrongly bouncing real estate agent's cheques

Even though I am a Westpac shareholder I applaud this decision. The inefficiency of Australian banks is mind-blowing and anything that rattles their teeth over it can only be good

THE High Court has ordered Westpac Banking Corporation to pay a former real estate agent more than $50,000 in damages for defamation arising from its mistaken dishonouring of his company's cheques. The payout will be much higher as interest must also be paid.

In December 1997, Westpac mistakenly dishonoured 30 cheques drawn by the Homewise real estate agency, located in Auburn, Sydney. Paul Aktas was the sole shareholder of Homewise.

The cheques were returned to Mr Aktas' clients, mostly landlords, stamped "refer to drawer", inferring there were insufficient funds to meet the payment. That was not the case, and Mr Aktas subsequently won a breach of contract case relating to the incident.

However, he has since been involved in a long defamation challenge with Westpac, claiming he received an adverse and hostile reaction, particularly from the local Turkish community, when the cheques bounced.

His appeal of a NSW Supreme Court ruling in November 2007 that the bank's actions were covered by qualified privilege was upheld by the High Court.

In its judgment, the court said there was no public interest protecting the bank's communications to the payees, as payees have no interest in receiving notice of a refusal to pay a cheque where the drawer has sufficient funds to meet the payment. "For the payee, there is no need for any communication from the bank about the fate of the cheque, if it is met on presentation," the court said in a statement issued in conjunction with the judgment.

"Further, to hold that giving a notice of dishonour is an occasion of qualified privilege is not conducive to maintaining accuracy in the decisions banks must make about paying cheques."


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