various campaign bits and pieces

The Green Party released their IR policy today saying they can deliver industrial peace in our time. Labor released their policy on Tas forests, promising a scientific assessment to decide which forest areas will be protected. I thought the Green Party would be outraged that they’ve just got another review with an unknown result not being delivered until after the election, especially after they’d already handed over their preferences. However, on reflection I guess they couldn’t really do anything other than praise it effusively – they would have looked pretty silly doing anything else, given that they’d already handed over their preferences. The Wilderness Society gave a more balanced assessment, noting that we won’t know until this time next year what areas are going to be protected.

The suicides of some of the people arrested in the child pornography raids raises some difficult issues. On an issue as absolutely vital and fundamental as this, it is hard to be anything other than uncompromising. A strong message has to be sent that this activity is utterly unacceptable in every way. Presumption of innocence also has to be maintained, which is harder in such an environment. Balancing all these factors out is difficult, but given the lack of serious action on a whole range of child protection issues over so many years, I think there’s still a way to go before the rights of children are getting enough weight. The threats to kids are still far too significant and the seriousness of efforts to tackle these threats are still too piecemeal.

Flew out of Brisbane again today – probably won’t be back until election eve (have to vote myself in amongst everything else). I managed to read the first 5 or 6 chapters of the Pig City book while on the plane. It’s quite readable, which I wasn’t sure it would be. It convinced me that I must go and buy the recently issued CD package of the first 3 albums recorded by The Saints – I’ve got bits and pieces of their stuff on tape and vinyl, but having the lot on CD would be good (once again expanding my musical horizons by buying stuff I already own or know). Will provide a more full ‘book review’ once I’ve finished.

I’m doing an Online forum on the ABC site after tonight’s 4 Corners (which is on the Howard-Latham contest). I’ll be interested to see how much attention the Senate contest gets in the actual report. I know I can’t really be objective on this, but I’m starting to get a little bit surprised that the prospect of the Liberals getting de facto control of the Senate (i.e. half of the seats) is getting so little media attention. Having a major party control the Senate will have a much be more far-reaching impact than the decision of who ends up as Prime Minister. I’ve done a couple of Online forums before – they certainly have their limitations and stretch my speed typing skills to the limit, but it’s always good to try different ways of connecting with people about politics. I expect I’ll get a few more people repeating the misinformation about preferences, but hopefully there’ll be a few worthwhile comments or queries.

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  1. Andrew,
    Having been an avocate for Tassie forests for many years, I thought you would be happy at labors policy announcement and welcome it. Instead a media release went out about indigenous issues should be taken into account. If another party comes out with a policy that is good whats wrong with saying it’s a good policy. There is too much negativity in politics. For a party keeping the Bastards honest you need sometime be more open and optimistic about you opponants.
    You very rarely say anything positive about the Greens and Bob Brown although they have much in common with the Dems. What’s wrong with agreeing with them.
    On the other hand you say nothing about Family First who today wrote many negative things about muslims, alchohol and prostitutes. I don’t understand, can you enlighten me.

  2. Given that the majority of the criticism of the Democrats during this campaign has come from the Green Party, I feel I’m obliged to defend my members and set the record straight on some their misinformation.
    I did say Labor’s policy will be welcome if it delivers further protection of old growth forests, but it is still unclear how much it will protect and it won’t be clear until after the election, which is a bit late really.
    I have been critical of Family First’s conservative approach on some ‘moral’ issues, but I have also taken issue with some of the extremely exagerated, conspiratorial criticisms of them.
    As you rightly point out, there’s too much negativity in politics, and the exagerations which FF and the Greens have been attacking each ot her with have been beyond absurdity.

  3. Hi Andrew,
    as much as it is right and appropriate that people involved in any way in kiddy porn are charged, the process by which this has occurred does raise some scary legal questions for me.
    1. I’m getting very tired of seeing people both in this instance, and many others, having their names splashed around the Media as if they are guilty before anything is proven. This happens with depressing regularity and mud sticks.

  4. 2. As a computer scientist I wonder if the average person would have any realistic defence of they were framed by someone putting this stuff on their computer before or after arrest. There is virtually no security in common operating systems and I doubt the average person could prove that they didn’t put them there. I’m not saying this has happened with this, I’m just saying that the standards for proof need to be high and technically competent.
    Like most crimes of a sexual nature, it is much easier to accuse with this stuff than prove one’s innocence. I sincerely hope that everyone who has publicly shamed, or committed suicied is actually guilty and that the police and prosecutors are taking steps to ensure the potentially innocent are given some privacy until their crimes are actually proven. Once it is proven, sure come down really hard on them and give them treatment.

  5. As a programmer and technical person, I have used a lot of file-sharing programs. The same programs that people use for trading mp3s (a copyright violation, admittedly) and explicit content are the same programs that is used to propagate many forms of child pornography.
    There appears to be no police response to the ease of dissemination of the content. I believe that massive gains could be made with technological answers to the problem, and I believe it could be rolled out in a way which found a good balance between privacy and upholding legality. Many people concentrate on the punishment of those caught. However, looking at the problem statistically, there are many ways to reduce incidence rates without having to wait until someone has already committed the crime. Making crime more difficult should also be an aim of our police.
    Anyone interested in what those measures might be is welcome to email me or post to my blog.

  6. Focusing just on punishing people, whether it’s users of child porn or people who directly abuse children themselves, won’t solve the problem. We have to do far more to identify and prevent.
    The proposals and dangers raised regarding computer technology are valid points.
    The publicity about individuals charged is a very vexed issue. If details aren’t made public, I know many on the community would complain about being kept in the dark. But the damage to reputation in the event of a wrong charge could certainly be severe.
    Overall though, we still need to do more to give this national priority and we need to recognise that it is more than just a few sickos – it’s far more widespread than is acknowledged.

  7. Andrew,
    I recall almost no criticism of the Democrats or yourself until the preference deal you made with Family First and Fred Nile became public. You are either too sensitive to criticism or you just can’t see the forest for the trees…

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