FEDERAL ELECTION 2007: by Patrick J. ByrneNews Weekly
NCC policy initiatives on biofuels and Internet safety
, September 29, 2007
The National Civic Council has launched two election brochures with policies promoting biofuels, industry and family-safe internet-filtering. Patrick J. Byrne reports.Green EnergyAustralia is positioned to reduce the cost of a carbon-trading system, reduce carbon emissions, reduce dependence on imported oil and cars, and cut its burgeoning foreign debt.
This can be achieved by creating a major green biofuels industry combined with an expanded domestic motor-vehicle industry producing green, flex-fuel cars capable of running on an ethanol-mix in fuel.
Australia's combined deficit on imported cars and fuel is over $30 billion, which is set to rise sharply. This is unsustainable for Australia with its growing net foreign debt of $544 billion (53 per cent of GDP). A large sugar-cane-based ethanol industry and a domestically-owned car industry are the solution.
However, farmers will only continue to produce the sugar-cane needed for an efficient ethanol industry if the Federal Government legislates, or introduces a mandatory code of conduct, for an equitable and transparent pricing mechanism for cane supply, including final-offer arbitration, and creates a marketing authority for fuel ethanol.
No other policy could deliver a more substantial cash flow to Australia's struggling rural industries. And this would not
impact on human food or stock food prices.
A sugar-cane-based ethanol industry would provide 10 per cent ethanol to all Australian petrol-driven cars, and would consume about 42 per cent of the east coast sugar-cane crop using the latest ethanol production technology from Brazil.
At the same time, Australia's domestic car industry is winding down, despite substantial subsidies. Yet Australia is capable of designing and building world-class motor vehicles.
A solution would be for an Australian-financed consortium to buy out one or two existing producers, and have the industry aim to platform-share the building of small, medium and large cars.
This would allow the building of three or four world-class cars and gain efficiencies of scale so as to increase domestic production from about 300,000 to one million cars.
This policy is vital to the preservation of Australia's only major manufacturing industry.Internet policy
Public concern is growing rapidly over the vast and growing array of seriously disturbing and objectionable - not to mention, illegal - content on the internet, and now available on mobile phones.
There is no one "silver bullet" capable of filtering such content. However, as a matter of principle, what is illegal in other forms should also be illegal on the internet and on mobile phones. Sites with illegal content should be shut down or, if they originate overseas, be blocked by filters.
The major thrust of Federal Government policy has been to provide free home-based filters to families. However, home-based filters are easy to bypass and, while some offer automatic content-filtering, many have generally relied on blacklist filtering and text-recognition systems.
The current blacklists only block a mere 850 sites, and the use of them by internet service-providers (ISPs) and filter software-providers has been optional.
No effective strategies have been adopted to make the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) blacklist more comprehensive, a major weakness of current government policy. Meanwhile, some teens have already demonstrated how easy it is to bypass the free government filters.
In contrast, the community wants primary filtering to be done by ISPs.
Urgent priority should be for ACMA to create a comprehensive blacklist of prohibited sites to ISPs and for the Government to trial new automatic content-filtering technologies. The Government has failed to proceed with these tests, despite repeated requests.
Should commercial ISP trials prove successful, ACMA should focus on identifying and maintaining a comprehensive blacklist of illegal sites not adequately covered by current automated filtering technology.
Should the commercial ISP trials be unsatisfactory, then ACMA should focus on providing as comprehensive a blacklist as possible of all prohibited content.
To this end, the Government should investigate having institutions supply blacklists compiled from their own filters for the building of a comprehensive and effective ACMA blacklist to be used by ISPs.
Public education campaigns should be family-focused. A substantial body of research indicates that the most effective strategies for ensuring safe child and adolescent use of the internet involves educating and equipping parents to authoritatively guide their families on these issues.
The campaigns should focus on making parents aware of the dangers their children face on the internet, giving them the technical tools and personal confidence to guide their children towards safe use of these technologies.
Policies for handling mobile phones are also extensively outlined.Copies of these brochures are available from the NCC's web site www.newsweekly.com.au or from the NCC national and state offices.