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Transcript of joint doorstop interview: Balgowlah, Sydney: 23 December 2012: Coalition's Online Safety Guide for Christmas 2012; Peter Slipper case; online safety for children



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR FEDERAL MEMBER FOR WARRINGAH

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR JOINT DOORSTOP WITH MR. PAUL FLETCHER MHR, CHAIR OF THE COALITION’S ONLINE SAFETY WORKING GROUP, BALGOWLAH, SYDNEY

Subjects: Coalition’s Online Safety Guide for Christmas 2012; Peter Slipper case; online safety for children.

E&OE……………………….……………………………………………………………

TONY ABBOTT:

It’s terrific to be here in Harvey Norman at Balgowlah. I want to thank Alex and Rob and their team for making Margie and me and Paul Fletcher so welcome. Paul is here because he chaired an e-safety taskforce which the Coalition has had operating for the last year or so. I want to thank Paul for the work he and his committee have done. Paul will say a few words in a moment. Obviously, we have got Christmas coming up and right now there are millions of Australian parents out in the shops buying presents for their kids. Quite a lot of those presents whether they be mobile phones, computers, Xbox’s, will be internet enabled. The thing about internet enabling is that if the kids have got access to your credit card you could end up running up large bills and perhaps more significantly as an internet enabled game or toy or product the kids can have access to a whole lot sites that might horrify you.

The good news is that the technology is now available to ensure the parents can have quite a lot of control over exactly what these products can do, exactly what their kids can get access to via these products. Now, today the Liberal Party, the Coalition is releasing some guides for parents. I suppose the essential message is make the technology work for you, not against you. Before you wrap the present make sure you know what it can do. If we were giving the kids bikes or skateboards or surfboards we’d want them to know how to use these products safely. We need to take the relevant steps to ensure that our kids can use electronic toys and products safely. The further good news is that if you come to a reputable store like Harvey Norman the staff are only too happy to help you access these sorts of parental controls and as we saw earlier most of these products have got pretty simple straight forward ways of putting protections on the devices. You don’t have to be a computer expert, you don’t have to be an IT specialist to do it but if you have got any doubts or anxieties ask the staff, they’re only too happy to help and the staff of course know these things inside out so they can help you very easily.

I want to thank Paul Fletcher for the work he has done. There is a policy paper that the Liberal Party, that the Coalition has put out including our recommendation for an e-Safety Commissioner. That’s something we will be doing in government to try to ensure that the online world is as safe as we want our neighbourhoods to be. We want Australians to be able to live their lives in security and these days that means online security as well as security in our streets. So, I might ask Paul just to say a few words.

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PAUL FLETCHER:

Thank you very much Tony and I am very pleased to be here with Tony and Margie Abbott at Harvey Norman in Balgowlah to just encourage parents to think a little bit about online safety at Christmas 2012. Of course giving presents to children is one of the great joys for parents and grandparents and others but if parents are giving devices which provide online access to children then it is important to think a little bit about online safety, the risks that children may be exposed to through the internet which they can get access to from a smart phone or a tablet computer or a games console or another device that they might get for Christmas and how parents can help children manage those risks.

Now, thinking about online safety is something the Coalition has been doing a lot of this year with the Coalition’s Online Safety Working Group which Tony set up earlier this year and together with a number of my Coalition parliamentary colleagues we have been all around Australia consulting with parents, children, schools about online safety. We recently released a discussion paper with some policy proposals of things that we think would make the internet safer should we come to government.

In the meantime at Christmas 2012 as parents purchasing internet enabled devices for their children, we have issued the Coalition’s online safety guide for Christmas 2012 and that picks up some of the best tips that we picked up from parents around Australia. Things like making sure that if there is a computer at home which a child is using, make sure it has an internet filter and you can download one readily from the internet. Things like making sure before you give your child an internet enabled device, play around with it, familiarise yourself with it and particularly how to use the parental controls for children who are younger, that’s important. Other tips that we picked up from parents around Australia for example, a lot of families have a practice of not allowing children to hold on to a smart phone in the bedroom overnight. Instead, the family rule is keep it in the kitchen, they all get charged there and of course that also means your kids aren’t online chatting on Facebook, sending and receiving emails all night, they are doing what they should be doing at night which is sleeping.

So, these are some of the tips in the booklet that the Coalition has put out. We encourage parents to have a look at it. We encourage parents to take some of these steps to make sure that their children’s experience on the internet is a happy, safe and positive one.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thanks so much Paul, ok do we have any questions?

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott the Gillard Government has reportedly authorised a Queensland Labor MP Graham Perrett to refer Mal Brough to the Federal Police of allegations arising over the Peter Slipper matter. Does this concern you?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, the Labor Party has been hyperventilating about this for months now. They should get over it, they should accept that there has been no conspiracy here. They should understand that the only real issue when it comes to Peter Slipper is why did the Prime Minister ever think he was a fit and proper person to put in that job and frankly I think this is all a bit of try-on. It’s typical of the Labor Party that we would get this kind of try-on. The big question is, has any taxpayer money been used to prepare this letter? Have public servants been used to prepare this letter? Did Mr Perrett actually author this letter himself or did people in Minister’s staff, did Minister’s staff do this, were taxpayer funded lawyers used to prepare or provide input to this letter? Frankly, it looks to me like a typical Labor Party try-on and I think they should just move on from all of this.

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QUESTION:

Back to the other matter, what can the Government do to protect children in cyber space or is it up to the individual parent?

TONY ABBOTT:

The Government has been huffing and puffing for years in this area and for a long time they were promising an internet filter. Well, of course that was never practical and typically it has never been delivered. As we have seen today most of these products have all sorts of protections imbedded should parents choose to use them and the great thing about a responsible store such as Harvey Norman is that advice is there to enable you as a parent or grandparent giving a gift like this to make sure that it is safe. The technology can work for you not just against you. The online environment can be much safer if you use the protections that are embedded in most of this equipment.

PAUL FLETCHER:

If I could just add to that, government can do more with things like the children’s e-Safety Commissioner that we have recommended in our discussion paper and with things like national product standards for smart phones and other devices which are suitable for children. In addition though, there is plenty that parents can do to ensure the safety of the children in their care and that’s one of the focusses of the paper that we are putting out today, the recommendation we are putting out today.

QUESTION:

Are there any recommendations as to the ages of children, where their parents might be particularly concerned about? I am imaging that older teenagers might not want their parents to interfere.

TONY ABBOTT:

What we are talking about today is how parents can ensure that what they give their children at Christmas time is good for their kids. I mean we wouldn’t knowingly give our kids anything that is going to be for their detriment and when we give them things that could possibly have a down side we normally say well this is the right and responsible way to use it. Now, there is a better way for parents to give these kind of electronic devices to their kids and that is to make sure you know what it can do before you wrap up the present and if you come to a store like Harvey Norman they will be able to give you the advice and help you to ensure that all the protections that you want for your kids are already operating before they start to do what they want to do with the relevant device.

[ends]