The following is an open letter to Premier Campbell Newman sent by Queensland Coordinator Michael Keating regarding the Queensland State Government’s consideration of banning canvassing at polling booths during elections.
Dear Premier Newman,
It is with concern that I read in the Brisbane Times on the 24th of April that you and your government are considering banning polling booth canvassing at elections. Such recommendations that you are looking at implementing have the potential for causing issues with the natural democratic process in this state.
The proposed change to polling booth canvassing is a potential issue for the free democratic process we enjoy in Australia. As a member of Pirate Party Australia, we gladly support the improvement of conduct during elections – both from politicians and their supporters. However, there are several issues with attempting to restrict or ban canvassing at polling booths. Chief among them is that it will take away the opportunity for people of all political backgrounds to be able to provide information to voters about their policies, backgrounds and any other relevant information. Restricting this would be restricting the normal democratic process, for what can only be seen as being for your own benefit. This also raises the potential issue of these laws being used to restrict free speech in airing political opinions at times of elections.
This is an opinion piece authored by Simon Frew, President of Pirate Party Australia. It has been sent to The Guardian for publication.
On Thursday the new Attorney-General, George Brandis, announced his Chief of Staff: former Australian Secret Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) Director-General, Paul O’Sullivan. Brandis used this announcement to signify his desire to ‘have a strong national-security focus‘ in the role of Attorney-General.
This announcement raises serious concerns for anyone wanting to curb the power of Australian intelligence agencies’ abilities in their never-ending quest to better snoop on our private lives. The last Coalition Government granted new powers to intelligence agencies repeatedly, with no public consultation or regard to the impacts on the civil liberties of Australian citizens.
Although both major parties have pushed for more draconian surveillance powers, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) was the one that had the courage to announce a public inquiry into their proposals for greater powers for law enforcement and intelligence agencies. The inquiry into new national security powers and provisions saw a massive response from Australian citizens with 236 papers being submitted; the vast majority were opposed to greater powers for Australian spooks. As a result of such a powerful response, new laws were not passed.
Since then Australia has been implicated in the massive, dragnet surveillance system being run by the US National Security Agency (NSA), which was uncovered in the leaks provided by security contractor, Edward Snowden. The Australian Signals Directorate (formerly the Defence Signals Directorate) has been exposed tapping undersea telecommunications cables and participates in the Five Eyes surveillance agreement, along with agencies in the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand.
This is an opinion piece authored by Simon Frew, President of Pirate Party Australia. It has been sent to ABC’s The Drum for publication.
The balance of power between citizens and the state is shifting on a number of fronts. On one hand, government agencies are becoming increasingly secretive, exemplified by recent recommendations to the Attorney-General’s Department to reduce access to government documents through Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation. On the other hand, there is increasing surveillance of citizens and a continual, rapid growth in the reach of security agencies.
This opinion piece was co-authored by David Campbell (President) and Mozart Olbrycht-Palmer (Deputy Secretary).
Following the ABC’s announcement that they will be streaming timely content from the new series of Dr Who, I applaud the broadcaster for moving with public demand and technological advancements.
I am very pleased to see a publicly funded broadcaster moving with society rather than against it. The ABC has recognised the demand for global release dates to be brought closer together. If more broadcasters (and content rights holders) could recognise this demand and innovate within the marketplace, as the ABC has done, the issues of fans wanting content available in a timely fashion would no longer be a concern.
Instead of attacking fans with litigation, or lobbying governments to restrict our civil rights, we need to move with new technology and innovate within the global market. Old media broadcasters cannot afford to flounder or their place will be taken by new content suppliers who have adapted to the changing environment.
When fans of a television show can share high definition “pirate” recordings with the other side of the world within hours of the initial broadcast, Australian fans find it difficult to understand why it takes weeks, months or even years for a television show to reach our shores. In a globally connected society, where peer groups span the world, creating ubiquitous word-of-mouth demand and discussing popular content and culture, the lack of availability often results in infringement of the established copyright monopoly.
This blog post was authored by Mozart Palmer, a spokesperson for Pirate Party Australia.
Copyright lobbyists love to use words like ‘stealing’ and ‘piracy’ to describe sharing copyrighted materials online. ‘Theft’ is another word commonly applied by these copyright protectionists to what is already a widespread practice. The expression ‘copyright theft’ is a paradox: it is impossible to take away a person’s right to copy information or ideas. ‘Theft’ is used to misinform the public, media and, most importantly, lawmakers, in order to outlaw what many see as perfectly normal behaviour.
We are taught from a very early age to share, and in the Information Age, where sharing information, ideas and culture is incredibly easy, it is only natural for people to continue to do so.
This ability is being hampered however, as groups such as the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT, whose name is ironically a paradox in itself) continue their efforts to protect the failing business models of an industry too complacent and comfortable to adapt. Whenever a new technology comes along that facilitates the dissemination of knowledge and culture on a much wider scale than before, the content industry – the copyright owners and their representatives – complain that it will destroy them.