Bishop Peter Ingham said Sunday that the federal government must be supported in its initiative for Internet Service Provider (ISP) filtering, as Australia is falling behind other countries on the issue of safety.
"Comparable western countries, such as the U.K., Canada, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland already have ISP filtering in operation," he said.
He pointed out that in many cases, the service providers themselves "initiated the filtering in order to live up to the community's expectations that illegal material or material that is harmful to children should not be available on the Internet."
The prelate expressed disappointment that Australia's largest Internet provider, Telstra, "has said it will not participate in trials of the federal government's national Internet filter."
He stated the position of the bishops' conference that "whatever could reasonably be done to filter out illegal sites at ISP level, should be done."
"Claims that ISP filtering would slow down Internet speed should be weighed up against the example of those countries where such filtering already existed," he added.
Bishop Ingham continued: "Arguments that civil liberties will be infringed by Internet filtering are absolutely spurious, as the government's proposal simply aims to ensure that the material accessible on the Internet is in line with the restrictions already in place in regard to DVDs or publications.
"Pornography of any kind is harmful to human dignity and often degrading to women. Research shows that Internet pornography is also becoming more and more harmful to marriages and relationships. In particular, every parent knows that much of the pornographic material that can be found on the Internet ought not to be accessible to children."
He concluded, "We call on the community to get behind the federal government on this important issue and support its attempts to keep pace with the rest of the world when it comes to cleaning up the Net in a fair and reasonable way."