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Wednesday, 6 May 1987
Page: 2747

Mr McGAURAN(7.42) —One of the failures of this Parliament has been not to address the issue of video pornography. That is an issue of tremendous concern to a great many people, not the least parents who worry that such videos are too freely available to their children and that they do not have the same supervision of their children in relation to videos as they would wish. Therefore, there is a responsibility on Parliament to address issues such as that. Sadly, that responsibility has escaped us.

How much longer will this Government allow X-rated videos to be distributed from the Australian Capital Territory to the various States, thereby circumventing those States' more restricted categories? It is an absolute disgrace that mail order of the most foul-almost indescribable-X-rated videos is freely available throughout different parts of Australia in complete defiance of State laws. It makes the law an absolute ass and I worry that it puts Parliament in a somewhat similar category. We cannot escape our responsibilities.

The Government's stock reply to criticisms or inquiries of such a nature is that for more than two years there has been a joint select committee examining video pornography and advising the Government. How much longer must we wait for action? This Government can no longer hide behind the veil of a never-ending parliamentary committee. In the meantime the frustrations and concerns of a great many Australians in different sectors of society increase, and I, for one, find it very difficult to explain this inaction to groups of concerned parents or Christians who invite me along to speak on this issue of video pornography and how legislators will seek to control it. How much more evidence does this Government need before it acts to re-categorise videos that are available within the Australian Capital Territory? Moreover, how much longer will this Government tolerate State laws being held up to ridicule because of the freely available X-rated videos emanating from the Australian Capital Territory? How much longer will this Government ignore the allegations made by persons such as journalist Bob Bottom that the American Mafia has links with X-rated video pornography in the Australian Capital Territory. It would be delving into the realms of the ridiculous not to think that organised crime has an interest in video pornography in the same way that it has an interest in vice, illegal gambling and drugs, to mention just a few of its specialist activities, for want of a better phrase.

There are enormous responsibilities upon the Government. It disappoints me enormously, first, that this Government fails to act, and secondly, that the Senate Select Committee on Video Material has also failed to act. For instance, why has the Committee not at least issued an interim report as is the normal practice? I am anxious not to stray into the realms of criticism of a parliamentary committee so I will take that matter no further. The Australian Family Association has made representations to me and I would hope that the Government would act more forcefully and in a far more determined manner to rein in the blatant abuse of State laws by the purveyors of pornography centred on the Australian Capital Territory.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 7.46 p.m.