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Australian Communications Director Stephen Conroy Under Fire

Written by:
Alistair Prescott
Published on:
Apr/04/2009

The row over Australian Communication Director Stephen Conroy's remarks against Internet Service Provider iiNet continued through the weekend with extensive press coverage. 

At a CommsDay telecommunications conference this week, Senator Conroy ridiculed iiNet in front of an audience of key industry figures, implying they were, among other things, "oblivious".

Several media outlets reported that Mr Conroy ridiculed arguments in iiNet's legal defence that it was not aware of what was being downloaded on its network as "stunning", according to Australian IT.

The Sydney Morning Herald had this to say:

Some industry commentators have interpreted Senator Conroy's comments as revenge for iiNet pulling out of the Federal Government's internet censorship trials. The company criticised the Government for constantly changing its policy and said it could not "reconcile participation in the trial with our corporate social responsibility".

Opposition communications spokesman Nick Minchin and the shadow attorney-general, George Brandis, launched a joint attack on Senator Conroy today, calling his conduct "grossly improper" and accusing him of expressing a partisan view regarding potential evidence in iiNet's defence.

They said the comments had the potential to "prejudice a matter before the Federal Court".

iiNet's lawyers, Herbert Geer, said they were "particularly surprised" by Senator Conroy's comments, as the telco had not yet filed its defence and evidence on key aspects of the case.

"We hope that all parties will allow the legal process to run its course. We'll do our talking in court and allow iiNet's defence to be judged by the judiciary," said partner Graham Phillips.

In response to the criticisms, Senator Conroy said: "Senator Minchin needs to get a sense of humour or, more importantly, a broadband policy."

Conroy is attempting to block some 2000 plus websites from public access, including some online poker rooms. 

Alistair Prescott, Gambling911.com 

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