Friday, March 18, 2011

Law proposed against uploading violent images on the internet

Depictions of Muslim violence included? This is a very slippery slope

The South Australian government wants to make it an offence to post violent or other degrading images on the internet.

Attorney-General John Rau said the state's proposed legislation, to be introduced this year, would be the first of its kind in Australia. It will make it an offence to knowingly take or publish humiliating, demeaning or degrading images of another person without their consent.

Mr Rau said it was designed to tackle thugs who filmed assaults and then posted them on the internet.

The move follows the appearance of a viral video on YouTube showing a student in an Australian school playground tormenting another boy and then being picked up and violently thrown on the ground by the victim.

"The government wants to attack this disgusting fad of thugs engineering and filming violent and humiliating acts and posting the images to websites," Mr Rau said today. "This behaviour is so disturbing and potentially damaging to the victims that I believe the creators of these images should be subject to severe penalties, including jail sentences.

"The government wants to make it very clear that if a person participates in any way in an act of this sort, then the consequences will be severe."

Mr Rau said the onus would be on the person charged to prove that they had a legitimate purpose for capturing the images, other than humiliating, degrading or demeaning the victim. The proposed laws would cover anyone involved in the process of deliberately filming and publishing the images. "For example, if you knowingly allow someone to use your computer or phone to upload the images, you could be covered by the laws," Mr Rau said. "If you knowingly participate in someone's humiliation while someone else films it, you could also find yourself charged with a serious offence."

But opposition justice spokesman Stephen Wade said the government's proposals lacked detail. "We have no indication of how this initiative will be policed or how we can avoid people being unfairly caught by the legislation," Mr Wade said.


Money-hungry Green/Left government wants a new tax even on a "green" fuel

Their addiction to spending trumps everything else -- but it gives the conservatives a free kick

The Coalition is set to oppose Labor's new excise on LPG, opening another front in its potent "cost of living" attack against the Gillard government and potentially blowing a $540 million hole in the budget.

The Coalition leader, Tony Abbott, hinted at the stand yesterday when he said he would soon announce a "very clear position" on the proposed excise - due to be phased in from December - and agreed with a radio interviewer that it would be "silly" from an environmental point of view for the government to impose a tax that made it more expensive to use cleaner LPG.

The independents - who won a partial reprieve from the new excise for biofuels such as ethanol in the deal struck to allow Labor to form government - are under pressure to also remove or delay the excise for the half million drivers who could be hit by the new tax on LPG.

LPG Australia held a "town hall meeting" in Tamworth, in the independent Tony Windsor's electorate, on Monday night and has held similar meetings in the electorates of independents Rob Oakeshott and Andrew Wilkie. It argues LPG is a greener alternative because its emissions are up to 13 per cent lower than those of a petrol-run car.

A communique from the meeting, signed by 14 local business owners, said the tax would hit regional industries and jobs and demanded the government and the independents abandon it.

The government is scheduled to introduce within weeks legislation phasing in the excise on alternative fuels from December - finally implementing plans first announced by the Howard government in 2004, before the former government deferred the excise until 2010.

Last year the budget included the new excise and said it would raise $540 million over its first four years, with the tax starting at 2.5¢ a litre and rising to 12.5¢ over five years. In January the Assistant Treasurer, Bill Shorten, delayed its start date from July to December to give the industry more time to prepare for the impost.


Don't vote Greens, say Catholic bishops

CATHOLIC bishops have warned the faithful against voting for the Greens in the state election, saying some of their policies were of "grave concern".

Yesterday the NSW Greens outlined a plan which would transfer government funding from wealthy private schools to public schools.

A two-page document entitled The Green Agenda is being circulated by Catholic agencies and through schools. It states the party's human rights and social policy areas are in direct conflict "with the beliefs and values of virtually all religious people, and the beliefs of many other people as well".

"Greens who are elected will bring a whole set of policies. You cannot pick and choose. They are not only concerned for the environment," it reads. It also warns about voting for candidates who might share similar views, pointing out that some MPs in the main parties had voted for "bad legislation" such as same-sex adoption.

The document was signed by 10 NSW bishops including the Sydney Archbishop, Cardinal George Pell. The Bishop of Bathurst, Michael McKenna, and the Bishop of Broken Bay, David Walker, did not sign the statement.

But the Greens said the document was at times "profoundly misleading". "The bishops have misrepresented both our polices and the facts in order to attack the Greens," the MP John Kaye said.

The letter outlines six areas of "grave concern", including the Greens' treatment of personal drug use as a health and social issue "and therefore acceptable", and its efforts to legalise gay marriage. "Changing the law on marriage would expose churches and schools to coercive pressures from the state to cease teaching their beliefs about marriage and family," it reads.

Echoing the sentiment of a letter posted on the Christian Schools Australia website this week, it also criticised the party's commitment to remove religious exemptions from the Anti-Discrimination Act, and warned funding cuts to non-government schools would force fees to rise, "possibly by as much as $1500 a year".

But Mr Kaye rejected that the Greens would slash school funding by anything like the 85 per cent the bishops' letter claimed. The NSW Greens' education policy, launched yesterday, calls for the transfer of $780 million a year from state and federal funding of non-government schools to public education. It argues the shift would not cause any Catholic or independent school to need to raise its fees or close its doors. Mr Kaye said non-government schools have enjoyed a decade of "ever-increasing public funding".

The Greens policy includes proposals to boost the number of public school teachers by 6000 (12 per cent) to reduce class sizes and provide more time for professional development.

An extra 2100 teachers would be hired in 581 public schools that serve the most disadvantaged communities. Funding for these extra teachers would come from stripping the 79 wealthiest private schools of government funding to raise $204 million a year.

The finance for the 6000 new teachers would be found by freezing state and federal funding of all other non-government schools at their 2003 level plus inflation. This would raise $576 million.


The Tasmanian worker is a threatened species -- threatened by Green extremism

Gary Johns

I WILL never forget the image of prime minister John Howard being carried on the shoulders of loggers at Launceston in the final week of the 2004 election, after Labor leader Mark Latham jumped in with the Greens to protect even more of Tasmania's forests. Howard opted to save a threatened species, Tasmanian loggers.

Less well remembered is that Bob Hawke, along with most of his caucus in 1989, was very keen on the Wesley Vale pulp mill in Tasmania. Having used its constitutional powers to block the proposed Gordon-below-Franklin power scheme in 1983, however, the die was cast. Labor changed its mind, shunned the Wesley Vale proposal and chased green preferences. Still, Tasmania awaits a hi-tech industry.

If, after all this time, a Labor government in Tasmania and a Labor government in Canberra cannot support a pulp mill that has the support of the local council, the Liberal and Labor parties in Tasmania and the approval of the federal environment minister, then Labor really has betrayed its origins. Failure to act positively in favour of the mill would prove that Labor does not want a world based on industry and ingenuity, just leisure and abstinence.

Tasmania has been at war with itself for 40 years. The Greens, formed from the United Tasmania Group, which arose out of the Lake Pedder Action Group, have come a long way. Bob Brown was there at the beginning. Australia should thank them - the Greens and Labor - for preserving places of high heritage value. But that work is done. The time has come to choose a productive future.

Christine Milne stood against the Wesley Vale kraft chlorine pulp mill. The Bell Bay Pulp Mill is not the son of Wesley Vale. Bell Bay will use elemental chlorine free bleaching processes that have virtually eliminated the release of dioxins and furans.

It satisfies the Tasmanian Planning Commission regulations, all relevant Australian environmental guidelines, the UN Environment Program and the World Bank.

May I remind senators Brown, and Milne that Tasmania does not pay its way? May I remind the senators that fully one-third of Tasmania has been locked away and preserved? There are 19 national parks and scores of reserves. When I walked the Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair National Park overland track in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (about 20 per cent of Tasmania), we started southwest of Launceston and walked south in a straight line for six days. Only a small number of hikers are allowed in the park on any day. All hikers must walk in the one direction to avoid any passing and minimise wear and tear on the track. All food and water, including coffee, must be flown in by helicopter. All excreta must be flown out by helicopter. This area is more protected than just about any on earth.

Brown and Milne are happy to keep Tasmania in penury. In their world, no venture that generates income from the use of natural resources should ever be given succour. If they could, I am sure that they would shut down the existing industrial plant at Bell Bay: the woodchip mill, the thermal power station, the electricity substation, the bass link exchange, the metal manufacturer, the aluminium smelter, the manganese-alloy smelter, the municipal sewage treatment plant and the wood processor mill. The carbon tax should help their cause by knocking out the smelters at Bell Bay. About all that will be left is hiking in the wilderness. Tasmania will then become terra nullius and the Greens' dream would be realised.

The Greens and their fellow travellers speak a strange language. They talk of a "social licence to operate". The social licence lives in the mind of those who still have not found a definitive way to stop all industrial processes, so they keep banging away, hoping to get some politician to invoke one more rule. It ignores the already extraordinary number of rules and regulations with which any company, Gunns included, must comply.

We live in a world where brilliant people can manage to do wonderful things by using natural resources. We have also learned to preserve the best of those natural resources for other uses, such as hiking. But I cannot afford to buy my hiking boots or fly to Tasmania if the Greens continue to squeeze the lifeblood out of the economy. These people should not be running this country.

Labor should use every means at its disposal to clear the way for Gunns to build a pulp mill. We live in an era when it is a crime to make money or employ people to develop natural resources. Labor should save a threatened species: the Tasmanian worker.


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