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Tuesday, 24 June 2008
Page: 3143

Senator McLUCAS (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing) (1:11 PM) —In relation to a number of the issues that Senator Fielding has raised, and particularly in terms of amendment (1), I would like to make the point that it would have been extremely useful to have had your amendments before the opening of debate today, to be able to deal with them in a sensible fashion. I understand that Minister Debus’s office has contacted your office, Senator Fielding, on many, many occasions since early May in order to provide you with information that could be of assistance. It would have been extremely useful to have had your amendments earlier in order to ensure that questions that you raise legitimately in the committee stage can be appropriately answered. However, having said that, let us go to the content of your amendment.

Your amendment essentially redefines the word ‘advertising’. It says that you cannot advertise any content of an unclassified film or computer game other than the title and a description of that film or game. If we allowed this amendment, there would no longer be advertising of the product. In allowing excerpts of the sound and vision, an advertisement actually provides parents and consumers with greater information on which to base their decision to view or purchase the product. By being able to provide more than a set of words that describe a film, therefore giving parents a bit of notion of what it is about—because if you see some excerpts from the film you will get as a parent bit of an idea of what the film is about—I think you actually provide parents with more information on which to make a judgement about whether they will take their child to the cinema or allow the purchase of particular computer game. Can I also reinforce with you that advertisements will be required to have a strong message to consumers to ‘check the classification’. This is clearly saying to consumers that the classification of this film has not yet occurred, as occurs now. So parents will be clearly aware of what is in a film prior to allowing their children to watch it or to purchase it.

You made the point, Senator Fielding, that you may take your child to a cinema to watch a PG film, and an advertisement for another film may appear that you find offensive. I understand that the regulation will say that a cinema which is going to carry an advertisement for another film can only show that advertisement if it is at the same classification level as or lower than that which applies to that showing. You cannot be there, having gone to see Bambi, and be confronted with a violent ad. I think that responds to the point you made in your contribution.

During the second reading debate, a number of speakers talked about the fact that this is ‘self-regulation’. It is not about self-regulation. Under this bill, the final classification decision will continue to remain with the Classification Board. Whilst there is a period of time where an advertisement for a film will be based on the industry advice, the final decision regarding any classification will remain with the Classification Board. I think that is an eminently sensible way to go forward. It not only acknowledges the concerns of industry but also protects children in particular and consumers more broadly regarding what they see on film, television or while playing a computer game. The government will not be supporting Senator Fielding’s amendment. Once again, it would have been great to have had it a little earlier.

Question negatived.