Federal IT minister senator Richard Alston has accused opposition senator Brian Greig of promoting pornography after he accused the government of fear-mongering to promote its Internet regulation policy.
Thrown a dorothy-dixer that gave him an opportunity to spruik the government's latest
initiatives to combat spam, Alston said Greig had given his approval to research
indicating pornography had a "therapeutic" effect on its users.
Alston was referring to research that Greig had cited during debate over the
government's Communications Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2002 the previous
Greig had presented to parliament a 10-year study by Danish criminologists, linking the legalisation of sexually-explicit material to a reduction in sex-related crimes to address claims by Senator Brian Harradine that use of pornography could promote child sex abuse.
"I would have thought [the Labor party] should be at least very concerned to be
associated with the Senator Greig's of this world who yesterday told the Senate he
very much approved of research which shows that pornography can have a
therapeutic effect," said Alston before ending his speech with a humorous swipe:
Greig admitted that he did not believe that pornography -- produced and used
responsibly by consenting adults -- was harmful, but said that presenting the Danish
research in parliament did not amount to endorsing it.
The research was intended to balance against reports the government had used to
defend its Internet censorship legislation which, claims Grieg, exploits fears and
ignorance about the Internet among politicians and members of the wider community.
Greig was referring to research conducted by the Australia Institute and endorsed by
Harradine. It found that 80 percent of teenage boys had seen pornography on the
Internet and raised concerns that it may lead to an increase in violent sexual
behavioured in young Australian males.
"The Howard government is largely about rhetoric; its largely about frightening people
and then pretending that it will protect people from the bogey men it creates," said
Greig said parental concern about the availability of explicit material on the Internet was understandable, but that government's attempts to regulate the Internet had no hope of succeeding.
"It takes the same approach to the Net whether it's pornography or online gambling--it
plays on the ignorance than many people have in terms of Internet technology and
pretends to be a solution".
"The only ignorance on display was with Senator Greig, and the Democrats and the
Greens and the Labor party this week, because they oppose measures that are purely
designed to protect Australian families from offensive material," he said.
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