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Labor's dangerous cuts to online safety must be reversed.



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Tue, 10th June 2008 LABOR'S DANGEROUS CUTS TO ONLINE SAFETY MUST BE REVERSED

The Hon Bruce Billson MP Shadow Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy

The Rudd Labor Government must reverse its irresponsible decision to cut funding to the Australian Federal Police to assist it in its ongoing war against online child sex exploitation and in its promotion of international cooperation.

The Federal Budget revealed the Government's astonishing plan to cut AFP funding by $2.8 million from its Online Child Exploitation Taskforce. This funding assists our police in their vitally important quest to track down and catch online child sex predators and to stop the spread of child pornography.

These planned cuts come at a time when Australian law enforcement agencies, led by the AFP, are engaged in a successful, large-scale operation against online child sex exploitation.

Operation Centurion has resulted in the arrest of more than 70 people thus far in relation to the possession of child pornography and other offences, with a further 20 people issued with summonses to face court. Our police are said to be shocked by the scale of this global problem.

Despite this, the Rudd Government razor gang wants to cut funding designed to specifically target online child sex exploitation and to help keep our children safe online.

The AFP cuts are part of the Rudd Labor Government plans to dismantle the previous government's Protecting Australian Families Online package of internet safety and policing measures, and re-branding it as a Cyber safety Plan, with a reduction of $37.2 million over five years.

This includes cuts to the Net Alert program's promotional budget. The program was established by the previous government to provide families with valuable information about online safety and resources, such as free Internet content filters.

The Rudd Labor Government must reverse these naive and dangerous funding cuts immediately and show that they are serious about online safety.