At the centre of the Government’s argument for mandatory filtering is the protection of children. Disagree with the plan and you’re labeled as someone who doesn’t care about the welfare of children. Wrong.

You see, I care a great deal about the future of young Australians. I care that we produce a generation of educated Australians. Adults that are forward thinkers and don’t follow suit, they follow what’s right. Dynamic, open-minded Australians that adapt to change. Australians that respect other people’s views — without the need to force their own.

But this can be achieved in only one way: The free flow of information, education and free thought.

A filter doesn’t allow that. It facilitates the exact opposite.

A filtered information network blocks the flow of knowledge, hampers education, and creates a society where free thought is feared, not encouraged.

Under a filtered network, access to information is based on a stranger’s morals and beliefs and restricted if isn’t in accordance. It produces a generation of people that are a product of Government endorsed information.

The Future

The Internet can and will change how our world functions. Do not exclude Australia from such a momentous occasion – allowing us to only hear in passing what’s happening outside our protective bubble.

The internet is not something that we should still fear in 2008. It’s time to leave behind the sensationalist Time covers, and images of scary hackers and men out to get you. It’s time to include the net in family discussion and even use it together as a family.

When we make the Internet become something other than a piece of technology to be feared and rather an information tool for the family to take advantage of, blocking the very information that makes it invaluable seems like such a silly idea. That’s because it is.

The Government should fund classes to teach parents how to use the Internet and monitor their child’s activities, not offer to do the job for them. That helps no one. They should collaborate with the States to design an in school education program to teach children of all ages how to safely use the Internet. Education is the key to protecting our children, not censorship.

You cannot restrict thinking. You can throw a blanket over something, but it doesn’t mean people won’t try and look underneath. Young Australians are not stupid, they will seek the information they need and want even if their parents or Government disapprove.

Mr Rudd, Mr Conroy. Please don’t reduce Australia to a nation that believes censorship is the answer to keeping children safe or fixing deep social problems like child pornography. Lead Australia to become a country that promotes freedom, respect and progress. A country that doesn’t fear the Internet, but embraces and advances it. When that happens, we may finally start to put an end to the problems you so adamantly hope your filter will fix.

– Mike