House debates

Monday, 18 March 2024

Private Members' Business

Online Safety

11:46 am

Photo of Aaron VioliAaron Violi (Casey, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I commend the member for Forrest, who is still in the House, for her advocacy and her whole career in this space of keeping children safe online. She spoke so well and so eloquently before. She has been a fierce advocate; I've seen that in the 18 to 20 months I've been here. It's wonderful to see the member take any chance to talk about the importance of this space. I commend her for her lifelong advocacy; it has an impact on all of us. I also commend the member for Banks not only for bringing this motion but for his private member's bill.

We've heard those opposite talk about the importance of online safety. They recognise that, but when there was an opportunity to do something they didn't take that opportunity. It shows, ultimately, the hypocrisy of this Prime Minister and this government. Day after day in this House, particularly in question time, and in the media, we hear the government criticise our side of parliament for being negative, for saying no, for not working with them. Here we had an opportunity for bipartisan support to keep children safe—a recommendation from the eSafety Commissioner for the mandated trial of age assurances—and this government said no. They said they were not prepared to work with us to keep children safe online.

Sometimes we can get into the technical weeds of talking about age assurance and different technologies, so let's take a step back and understand what we're talking about here. Let's use an example of if this technology was in the real world. Essentially the government is saying that if you've got three shops on a strip, a TAB, a pub and an adult store selling pornography, and if a 12-year-old child tries to walk into the TAB they'll get denied entry and be told: 'No, you're 12. You're too young. You can't come in', and if they then go next door and try and walk into the pub, without their parents, to order a beer, they'll get told, 'No, you cannot buy alcohol in this store', but if they go to the third store, the adult shop, and say, 'I would like to buy a DVD of pornography', the owner will say, 'Yes, no problems', and hand it over—no issue at all. That is the reality of what we were talking about with that bill, and what the coalition was trying to stop and what those opposite voted against—protecting children from accessing pornography. That's what happens in the real world: if you, as a 12-year-old, walk into that shop, in any town and any community across this country you get stopped from going into that store—but online you're not able to be. If you try to buy alcohol of if you try to put a bet on, you get stopped by the age verification technology.

We're hearing things about needing to do reviews and understand. This is one of the classic examples I talked about in my first speech: as we get more technologically advanced, the pace of regulation doesn't keep up. But the technology exists. It exists in gambling. It exists with online liquor. The eSafety Commissioner herself confirmed it existed. So we'll hear those opposite talk about needing to do reviews and comprehensive approaches, absolutely. But this is a trial for two years to save children, and we should start it straight away. As the member for Forrest said, if this can save one child from going through the trauma of online pornography and inappropriate content, surely it is worth starting the trial, to see if it will make a difference. If we wait one, two, three years for a comprehensive review, guess what? We'll probably want to start this trial anyway. There's no justification for ignoring the evidence of the eSafety Commissioner.

This was an opportunity for bipartisan support, so I commend the member for Banks for his leadership in this space, bringing this motion on and also bringing forward the private member's bill. It is vital that we do everything we can in this House to protect children. We all know it's been articulated—the dangers and damage of online pornography to young children, particularly young men, and what that does when they take it to the real world.


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