Up Front by Emma Hart


And a Pony. A Sparkly One.

You know what it's like. You get back to the internet after a break, and the first thing you do is find out what the sex blogs are doing, right? Right?

While I was gone, Australia made me a political party.

I'll admit at this point I was torn. The Australian Sex Party. There are so many jokes so deeply inherent in just the name that it's almost too easy. So just this once, I’m going to see what it's like going with my nobler instincts, and taking this seriously.

The Australian Sex Party will be launching at the Melbourne Sexpo (oh, this 'serious' thing isn't going to be easy) on November 20th and will attempt to gather the mandatory 500 members to become a registered political party. 'And a pony' could well be their least dodgy inducement. (Alright, I failed. I have no nobler instincts. Happy now? Because if not, I may know a political party that could help.)

They're already behaving just like a lot of other political parties, in that they've got a press release out, but there's no policy on their website. (As an aside, by the look of that website they desperately need at least one communications advisor, so if anyone knows an out of work bureaucrat looking to move to Australia, I can see an opening.)

Still, if there aren't any details, there are mission statements:

The Australian Sex Party is a political response to the sexual needs of Australia in the 21st century. It is an attempt to restore the balance between sexual privacy and sexual publicity that has been severely distorted by morals campaigners and prudish politicians.

Its platforms include a national sex education curriculum, reducing censorship, abolishing the Federal Government's proposed internet filter and supporting gay marriage.

Struggling through the urge to snigger in that first sentence, those sound like some platforms I could wear. Party Convener Fiona Patten, chief executive of the Eros Association, points to the proposed Aussie Clean Feed as a major stimulus behind the formation of the party. They also want a consistent national sex education curriculum like those in place in Britain and France, and a repeal of the ban on Australian foreign aid going to abortion services.

Single issue party? Sure. But they started it. If I were Australian (that is, if the Kiwi half of me were also Australian) and a party gave me full gay marriage, decent sex education from kindergarten, liberal censorship laws, and got rid of that stupid, stupid filter, I'd even forego the pony.

Speaking of the stupid stupid filter, things are developing. The Green Party has been giving Communications Minister Steve Conroy a hard time in the House, and now the ISPs are getting all testy:

Michael Malone, managing director iiNet, said he would sign up to be involved in the "ridiculous" trials, which are scheduled to commence by December 24 this year.

Malone's main purpose was to provide the Government with "hard numbers" demonstrating "how stupid it is" - specifically that the filtering system would not work, would be patently simple to bypass, would not filter peer-to-peer traffic and would significantly degrade network speeds.

"Every time a kid manages to get through this filter, we'll be publicising it and every time it blocks legitimate content, we'll be publicising it."

As more details emerge closer to the trials starting, things become even more alarming. Turns out there are two blacklists, and you can only opt out of one of them. Electronic Frontiers Australia also looks at the content of the much-touted ACMA blacklist – or at least what they can deduce, given the list is secret. Best guess is that about half the sites on the list contain nothing but legal material.

It's enough to make people want to form a political party. I do hope our new Minister for Laying Fibre Up My Driveway will be watching Senator Conroy's special Christmas train-smash closely.

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