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Wednesday, 12 September 2012
Page: 10464

Mr CRAIG THOMSON (Dobell) (09:45): I rise to speak about bullying. There has been quite a bit of coverage in recent days about bullying in relation to the trolls on Twitter, and it is worth congratulating the Daily Telegraph today for launching a campaign to fight to stop this. In particular I would like to congratulate Michael Clark, Charlotte Dawson, Ben Barber and Kevin Rudd, who have put their names to that story, and undoubtedly will be subject of trolls twittering and attacking them for taking that stand today. It is something that should be congratulated.

Bullying is not confined to Twitter and we need to be taking this campaign a little bit further than just looking at what happens on Twitter. Bullying in the Australian media happens with shock-jocks every day for hours and hours on end. It happens in our newspapers with columnists. It happens in blog sites, and the Prime Minister, quite rightly, outed misogynist nutcases last week when she commented about bullying in relation to her. We tell our kids at school, 'You should not bully in the playground,' yet we have allowed it to flow through all levels of the media and all levels of our society.

Twitter is one form where people can anonymously put up their comments, but by and large people of Twitter are reacting to comments that are made by others in the public, and to ignore what is encouraging those people on Twitter to bully is ignoring the problem. We need to be looking at ways in which we can keep free speech, but also make sure that people do not abuse that free speech.

I do note, and it is a slight criticism of the Daily Telegraph, in its article today it says, 'Join our campaign to stamp out the faceless bullies.' You then go to the comments on the site, and we have one from Outback Jack, Macca of Sydney, Leo, Mitch of Servo, Me of Sydney. So, in criticising Twitter for allowing faceless bullying, in their actual story they have done exactly the same by allowing faceless comments in relation to bullying, and so I encourage the Daily Telegraph to take their campaign a little bit further in terms of that, to make sure they regulate their own comments, then make sure that people put their names and addresses to the comments that they put on their blog sites, and also look at the types of articles, the types of commentators, the types of commentary that appear in their paper, appear on radio and TV everyday. Bullying is bullying whatever form it takes and it should not be tolerated in any form, at any level.