There is community concern that society is becoming desensitised to sexually explicit and extremely violent material as film-makers test the boundaries of the interpretation of classification guidelines. Unfortunately, the current National Classification Code and Classification Guidelines allow too much discretion to the classifiers ... Would your government direct a review of the Code and Guidelines, and the Classification Act, with the intent of limiting the discretion of the classifiers on such matters?
When the ACL asks questions like that, they're not so much engaging the parties in a discussion as advancing a particular, and in my view quite scary, agenda. So the Greens had every right to tell the ACL to go to hell, and were possibly even correct to do so. Apart from anything else, I am thoroughly sick of the Rovian idea that Australian Senate candidates need to cater to some kind of monolithic Christian Vote. Leaving sectarian tensions behind was a good thing in Australian political life.
But the Liberty and Democracy Party, just as opinionated as the Greens and equally antagonistic to the ACL's agenda, took a different tack, and I think their responses are worth noting. I'm not a libertarian myself – I like gun laws, for instance, and I don't think government foreign aid is immoral. And as for the LDP's apparently straighfaced assertion that relaxing building development zoning laws is an adequate public policy approach to solving homelessness... well, frankly, that's a little nutty.
But on the whole I've always felt that Australian politics could do with a bit more reflexive libertarianism, if only to defend against the strains of wowserism that tend to affect both major parties as they clamber over each other for the Working Families/Laura Norder/lock-up-the-reffos vote. Any counterweight to the kind of overweening authoritarianism we saw during APEC has got to be a healthy thing. We need people to step up and say: This is crazy.
Besides, it can be quite funny. Witness how the LDP responded to a question about, essentially, their willingness to pander to Christians:
ACL: What are your main priorities if elected for the next term of government? What can you offer to the Christian constituency in particular?
- Cut tax.
- Defend individual freedom of choice.
- Reduce the size of government.
Now, I am interested in neither cutting taxes nor reducing the size of government as an abstract concept, but you've gotta love their determination not to get sidetracked by the silliness of the Christian Constituency lead. They explain their reasoning in the full response:
The Liberty & Democracy Party doesn't try to offer special deals to any specific constituency, including the Christian constituency. We believe the government should treat everybody as individuals and leave them to make their own decisions to the maximum degree possible.
Question after question, the LDP busily promote their own platform, rejecting silly premises left, right and centre, and seem to have quite a good time doing it. Like here:
Q: The Australia Institute and family groups have raised concerns about the premature sexualisation of children through marketing, advertising, music videos and a range of other media. What actions would you take to protect childhood?
A: The Australia Institute is a socialist organisation. Raising a child is the job of parents, not the government.
And does the LDP support the creation of a special visa to help persecuted Christians enter Australia as refugees? "No", says the LDP sternly,
persecuted Christians could apply as refugees, just like any other persecuted group. The LDP supports more immigration, which would allow a greater number of persecuted people to enter Australia.
Take that, you zany theocrats.
By the way, all the responses to the ACL's questionnaire are worth looking at, although probably not in the way the ACL themselves intend. One thing's for sure, James Baker is a climate-change-denying, homophobic white nationalist who needs to be kept out of the Senate at all costs. Queenslanders take note.