the-greens

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That tired “bloggers are not journalists” debate looks like it’ll surface in Australia’s Senate soon, thanks to The Greens. It’ll be annoying. But it’ll be a Good Thing.

At the end of October the House of Representatives passed the Evidence Amendment (Journalists’ Privilege) Bill 2010, which is all about protecting the confidentiality of journalists’ sources. In the usual jargon, it’s a “journalist shield law”.

Australia was apparently the only major democracy without such a law in place or in progress, so it’s welcome. And, in the words of the new Greens MP for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, “this bill is a good example of how all parties can collaborate on a worthwhile initiative in a way that would not have happened without the currently composed parliament.”

Bandt continued:

To facilitate its passage, the Greens will support the bill in its current form in the House, but I indicate now that we will seek minor amendments to it in the Senate. In particular, we believe that it should be made explicit that the bill covers bloggers, citizen journalists and documentary filmmakers, and that the privileges provided by the bill cover anyone engaged in the process of journalism, no matter who they are or in what medium they publish.

Well I reckon it’s great that the new law might cover more people, not just those who work as employee-journalists in the industrial media factories. It’s great that it might be technology- and medium-neutral. But…

What the heck is a “blogger” or a “citizen journalist”?

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The estimable Possum Comitatus has asked this very question over at Crikey Blogs.

I’ve already added my two bits, mostly referring back to my post Why The Greens won’t win Marrickville from 2007.

Photograph of Greens Senator Scott Ludlam

On Friday I recorded an interview with The Greens’ Senator Scott Ludlam about the leaking of a “secret” Internet censorship blacklist. A few quotes were used in my Crikey piece. Here’s the full audio, just under 5 minutes.

Ludlam reckons Conroy should dump the filter trials and ask the industry for advice. After all, there’s 20 years of Internet expertise out there.

“Ask the question of the online community and the child protection community more generally ‘What’s the best way to protect children online?’, whether it’s from being poached in chatrooms, coming across [adult] material, or falling victim to some of the syndicates that are out there — all of the areas which net filtering won’t even go close to touching,” he said.

Senator Stephen Conroy’s office has reminded me that there is a consultative committee. Still, it does seem backwards to be trialling a specific technical solution before it’s been determined that it’s an appropriate place to be spending the money.

Play

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Photograph of Anthony Albanese MP

Here’s my letter to my federal MP Anthony Albanese (pictured), which this very moment is rolling off his fax machine.

I’m hoping that Mr Albanese will be able to have some impact on this because he is both Minister for Infrastructure — the Internet is key infrastructure, right? — and Leader of the House of Representatives.

I know that he understands human rights issues because … well, us Marrickville folks just do understand these things, right Anthony? And you certainly knew how to stick it into John Howard when he demonstrated cluelessness.

Like Mark Newton, I also release this letter into the public domain.

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Today The Greens are launching a policy to support the computer games industry in Australia.

There was a story earlier this year that the gaming industry is now bigger than the film industry. That’s only true if you compare the whole gaming industry with just film box-office sales and ignore DVD sales and rentals, exports and other non-cinema income. Still, it does make a point: gaming is a lot bigger than most people realise.

The gaming industry wants the same tax breaks as the film industry. I figure that to be consistent, yes, either they both get these breaks or they both don’t.

Photograph of USS Kitty Hawk in Sydney HarbourI like The Greens. They’re funny. They make me laugh. Haw. Haw. Haw. Snort.

There’s a bloody great aircraft carrier in Sydney Harbour. The whole city’s stopping to gawk at it. One of the most potent, visible symbols of Australia’s alliance with the US — and, by extension, our involvement in the War on Foreign Men with Beards and, you know, that Iraq thing — is sitting right there in front of us. So how does Senator Kerry Nettle use this opportunity?

Senator Kerry Nettle reacts to the Big Bad N-word with all the predictability of a cuckoo clock. Senator Kerry Nettle reckons us Sydneysiders have “a right to know” whether USS Kitty Hawk is carrying nuclear weapons. If it is, Senator Kerry Nettle reckons any accident on the ship could be a “catastrophe”.

No shit, Sherlock! It’s a goddam warship! It’s chock full’o jet fuel, ammunition, lubricants, rocket fuel, missile warheads and a thousand other things that are either as toxic as all get-up or go boom. Got that? Warship. So a couple of nukes buried down in some well-protected hidey-hole is the least of our worries.

And besides, Senator Kerry Nettle, what do you reckon? A US aircraft carrier, based out of Yokosuka, Japan, near that place, oh… what is it again? Yeah, North Korea. And with the job of…? Oh yeah, act as the core of an independent task force in the event of global war, whether conventional or nuclear.

Uhuh.

So, Senator Kerry Nettle, do you reckon the Kitty Hawk might be carrying perhaps just one or two nuclear weapons? Maybe just little ones? Yeah, me too. I reckon there just might be a couple’o nukes here.

While we don’t have a “right to be told” — hey, this is America we’re talking about, they’re answerable only to God — we do have a right to use our brains and figure it out for ourselves.

Or, come to think of it, see if that other Greens guy, Andrew Wilkie, has something more contemporary to say. Apparently he knows about stuff.

By all rights, The Greens’ candidate for Marrickville in the forthcoming NSW state election should be a shoe-in. This is The Greens heartland, and Fiona Byrne is a local councillor and presumably knows her patch. Labor incumbent Carmel Tebbutt, the Princess of Marrickville (so-called because her husband Anthony Albanese, the Prince of Marrickville, is the Federal ALP member for the equivalent district, Grayndler) has to dissuade us from thoughts that the NSW ALP government is rotten to the core. And environmental issues are at the top of the agenda.

But it won’t happen. And here’s why…

Earlier tonight, my post-gym dinner-and-drinks led me to the Carlisle Castle Hotel. It was a quiet night, and my gym partner and I were almost alone in the front bar until Fiona Byrne and her entourage turned up after a candidates’ forum at the Newtown Community Centre.

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