South Australian electoral law to affect blogs?

I just saw this piece on The Advertiser’s site about a new law which has come into force in South Australia

The law “requires internet bloggers, and anyone making a comment on next month’s state election, to publish their real name and postcode when commenting on the poll.”

The law will affect anyone posting a comment on an election story on mainstream news websites.  It reportedly also applies to social networking sites, and presumably also to personal blogs.

The report states that the law “also requires media organisations to keep a person’s real name and full address on file for six months, and they face fines of $5000 if they do not hand over this information to the Electoral Commissioner.

This is the first I’d heard of this, although presumably it came up when the relevant legislation was passed last year. It is hard to believe a measure like this got through the Upper House, but apparently the Opposition Liberals also supported it.

This sort of idea was considered at federal level by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters some years ago but was rejected as unworkable and not necessarily desirable in any case.

Draconian, dumb, futile and foolish are a few descriptions that spring to mind.  I’d also say it’s unworkable in terms of it’s stated purpose, but it could none the less snare innocent parties if a bloody minded government decided to enforce it to the letter.

I don’t know any more about this then what is published in The Advertiser piece, so I don’t know if this law will apply to this blog, and if so in what ways.  However, anyone commenting here can be assured I will not be seeking their real name or postcode, let alone publishing it. (People are, of course, free to use their real name if they wish, but I decided long ago not to go down that path with comments on this blog and I’ve never seen any reason to change that approach)

(cross posted at The Stump)

UPDATE (3/2): A follow-up report the next day quotes the South Australian Attorney-General saying the new law will not be enforced and the government will move after the election to retrospectively repeal it. Which means no impact on online expressions of opinion.

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14 Comments

  1. Yes, Andrew, I think you have very good reason to be concerned.

    I’d say the main idea is to get detractors to shut up. As I’ve mentioned previously, Information Control is the most powerful tool used by destructive cults.

    Perhaps the SA parliament may even wish to go a step further (at a later date) and throw detractors in the slammer.

    We already know that most political parties (especially Labor & Liberals) are run like destructive cults.

    We know these parties have a common agenda to screw their own citizens, business people, farmers and visa holders in order to allow global corporations to dominate and control everything e.g. financial services, water, electricity, gas, fuel, rail, ports, health, aged care, education, food supply. It would take me too long to list everything huge corporations have their greedy little mitts in.

    So much for living in a free democratic country. Welcome to the new Stalinist State!

  2. Its a mystifying and sad feature of life in modern politics, that politicians remain so paranoid and obsessive about keeping control of the organs for public information accumulation and dispersal and the material and content thereof.
    Good clue for where Conroy is really coming from and heading to, for example, rather than of evidence of any legitimate attempt to improve internet debate on politics.

  3. This is pure revenue raising for the Electoral Commission .Like A.S.I.O. a function of Incorporated Democracy,providing Corporate Services to whom may WE WE WEE ask!

  4. I think “Stalinist” might be just a tiny bit overstated.

    In any case, as noted in an update to my original post, a follow-up report has quoted the South Australian Attorney-General saying the new law will not be enforced and the government will move after the election to retrospectively repeal it. Which means no impact on online expressions of opinion.

    As you were, folks.

  5. Lorikeet:

    Obviously I can’t say for sure on that – neither can anyone else. Including of course, the SA Attorney-General. Not least because (a) while the polls look reasonably good for the ALP in SA for the March election, no one (including him) can be sure the ALP will win, (b) even if the ALP wins, no one (including him) can be sure he will still be Attorney-General afterwards or that the future government/Cabinet will still agree to pursue that course, (c) nor can he be sure he will retain his own seat at the election (although it’s a fair bet that he will), and (d) even he wins his seat again, ALP stays in government and he remains Attorney-General, the repeal/change still has to be agreed to by both houses of the new Parliament, and nothing is more certain than the fact that the new government (ALP or Lib) will not control the Upper House.

    That said, it’s still very likely a repeal would pass through easily, but the point is that nothing is guaranteed.

    And it is a damning demonstration of a government that can’t be bothered (or has forgotten how) to draft workable, coherent laws.

    But despite all of that …….. it has no relevance for this blog, so don’t worry about it affecting your commenting. (although I am not discouraging less frequent but more considered contributions)

  6. Atkinson’s electorate happens to be where I live. As a young bloke he seemed idealistic enough, but the years have changed him into a machine man.
    He looks tired, the whole government looks stale after eight years, but the Liberals in SA have been utterly pathetic ( ring a bell with folk in other states? ) and an election which in the past might have led to a change of government looks like having all the impact of a wet dish cloth, this time around.
    With Atkinson, his power bases involve the Right in general- he is social conservative by upbringing- but he has also assiduously cultivated the old inner suburban Greek vote and hence links with developers and construction companies, which apparently out of ignorance and greed, abhorr any limitations to “development” involving environment or heritage.

  7. The cruel reality is that a right-wing state merely has to create a few dodgy ‘identities’ and have them spruik distasteful comments in order to ‘justify’ this sort of law, ans that a naive public would let it happen.
    Now your political views, which should be in the realm of personal, are to be known to your boss, your neighbours, and anyone who wants to prevent debate on something you might merely pose as a question.

    This is clearly wrong.

    Our right-wing governments have already given themselves excessive powers to determine who says what almost anywhere, even on your phone (without real checks and balances).

    When we attend a polling booth to vote (with our ‘indelible’ lead pencil and paper) we are given a modicum of privacy in which to cast our vote-> yet our questions and thoughts are to be affixed to us publicly, even if just that – questions and thoughts? – In the name of what, I ask?
    So that any peron with an agenda can discriminate or otherwise treat you unfairly? For merely expressing a single thought or doubt about the poitical machinations of governments and oppositions?

    It is clearly only advantageous to those who wish to keep us in darkness and stiffle free thought and expression.
    There is plenty of recourse for government (the government of the people?) to take if someone commits a criminal violation with their speech.

    It is not the job of government to suppress free discussion or intimidate citizens into remaining silent or afraid to ask a question or seek the advice of their fellow citizens.

  8. That’s about par for the course. I had a friend recently who refused to sign for the receipt of his sons Education Dept laptop because the agreement contained a clause that prohibited the student engaging in ‘any political activity’ that was not first approved by the Ed, Dept.

    The kids have hacked the system to death anyway, teachers haven’t got a clue …

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