If you really wanted to protect children from sexual abuse, why would you take money away from the very people who could best stop it? Better ask Kevin Rudd, because that’s exactly what he’s done.
$2.8 million, which the Howard government allocated to expand the Australian Federal Police’s Online Child Sexual Exploitation Team (OCSET), was instead used by Rudd to help create Conroy’s $44.5 million Rabbit-Proof Firewall.
That’s a shame, because OCSET’s entire annual budget in 2007 was only $7.5 million. Without that money, OCSET simply doesn’t have the staff to investigate all of the suspected pedophiles it already knows about. Some cases get palmed off to the states — that is, to police who don’t have the specialist training and experience of OCSET. The rest…?
“Only half are likely to be investigated by child protection police,” reported the Daily Telegraph. “The rest will be farmed out to local commands or dropped”.
What a great way to “protect the children”, eh? Take money from the police, where it’d do some good, and burn it on a poorly-defined Internet filtering project. Anyone who knows anything about IT will tell you the same thing: without clearly-defined goals up front, you will go over budget, over schedule and in all likelihood, your project will never be completed.
[This article is based on material which first appeared in my subscriber-only Crikey piece Another nail in the coffin of Conroy’s Rabbit-Proof Firewall on 15 January
2008 , and would not have been possible without Irene Graham’s superb research at Libertus.net. Another part of it, with some fascinating discussion in the comments, is over here.]