It has been all quiet on the western front when it comes to censorship in Australia. Even though the Internet filter test produced surprisingly good results which would lead you to believe that implementation is just around the corner but the last month has seen not a single word uttered about it. With parliament resuming this week it’s sure to come into the spotlight again very soon. If it doesn’t then that will say quite a lot about the government’s intentions for implementing the thing, it may get delayed until after the election in the hopes of saving the tech vote.

However it appears that one of my most hated politicians, Attorney-General Michael Atkins, is peddling his censorship clap-trap in his home state of South Australia. It would seem now that if you want to make a comment about the upcoming election there you have to provide your name, rank and serial number (just kidding, name and postcode will do the trick) which the government can then keep on record for 6 months:

The law, which was pushed through last year as part of a raft of amendments to the Electoral Act and supported by the Liberal Party, 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.

Attorney-General Michael Atkinson denied that the new law was an attack on free speech.

“The AdelaideNow website is not just a sewer of criminal defamation, it is a sewer of identity theft and fraud,” Mr Atkinson said.

“There is no impinging on freedom of speech, people are free to say what they wish as themselves, not as somebody else.”

Well it would be nice if you could stifle public debate right before and election, especially when there’s been several campaigns set up against you because of your idiotic and hyperbolic views on things as trivial as a R18+ rating for games. He specifically mentioned the website AdelaideNow which has run several articles critical of his actions. I really shouldn’t be surprised at the vitriol that he spews when he gets any negative press (read my previous post about Atkins to see what I mean, the guy is a total fruitloop). All this was an attempt to shutdown the bad publicity he had been getting that he couldn’t do anything about.

That story was run at about 8:30am yesterday and you can imagine the supporters of the AdelaideNow site were in a bit of an uproar about the whole thing. Well over a thousand people posted up their comments with 90% of them against it. This sewer of criminal defamation, identity theft and fraud apparently has quite a voice since just over 14 hours after he robbed all South Australians of their rights to anonymity, he back peddled faster than anyone thought possible:

After a furious reaction on AdelaideNow to The Advertiser’s exclusive report on the new laws, Mr Atkinson at 10pm released this statement: “From the feedback we’ve received through AdelaideNow, the blogging generation believes that the law supported by all MPs and all political parties is unduly restrictive. I have listened.

“I will immediately after the election move to repeal the law retrospectively.”

Mr Atkinson said the law would not be enforced for comments posted on AdelaideNow during the upcoming election campaign, even though it was technically applicable.

“It may be humiliating for me, but that’s politics in a democracy and I’ll take my lumps,” he continued in the statement.

Far be it from me to look a gift horse in the mouth but does anyone else see through this thin veiled attempt to look like he’s completely reformed his position? Using the term “after the election” essentially amounts to “once I’m re-elected” which gives your average Joe the idea that if we don’t vote him in the next guy might not appeal it. He’s trying to play the remorseful wolf here after he’s slaughtered all the lambs in the field. I still don’t trust Atkins as far as I can throw him.

It’s not just his stance on censorship (both in speech and our right to by games for adults) that gets my goad up, it’s his hyperbolic vitriol that he spews on basically any issue he’s involved in. From using tortured refugee victims as an opposition to R18+ games to lashing out with accusations that people don’t exist I begin to feel that my previous label of fruitloop might be a little too kind.

With Gamers 4 Croydon standing up candidates in both houses there’s at least going to be some competition for the seat come election time. The seat of Croydon is unfortunately very safe and Atkins is unlikely to be dethroned over the issues that I harp on here, but the reaction of the AdelaideNow crowd shows the beginnings of a movement against Atkins. So whilst we probably won’t see a new Attorney General this election for Croydon we may see some movement on the issues that have stagnated under his rule. That is of course if he wants to keep his seat for another term after this one.

We can only hope.

About the Author

David Klemke

David is an avid gamer and technology enthusiast in Australia. He got his first taste for both of those passions when his father, a radio engineer from the University of Melbourne, gave him an old DOS box to play games on.

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