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Monday, 23 June 2003
Page: 17166


Ms O'BYRNE (1:57 PM) —Last Friday the Australian newspaper's front page photo showed the horrific image of an exiled Iranian who set fire to himself in Paris as an act of protest. Self-immolation as a public statement is not a new form of public protest and has in fact been used since the Vietnam War. However, the actions of the media in publishing images such as this must be examined. I and many other Australians ask if it is necessary for such images to be so easily accessed by children and others who do not necessarily wish to be confronted with such pictures when they pick up their morning newspaper. Readers of the Australian who were moved enough by the image to complain expressed their horror and disgust over the photograph and questioned why visual access of a picture of a burning human was supplied to children.

This is not the first time the Australian has been criticised for its choice of image on the front page. In May 2001, the image of a dingo being shot at close range caused a furore, with many of its readers complaining about the inappropriate and graphic nature of the image. Back then the Australian was forced to defend its decision to publish this image, and I now ask the Australian to similarly justify why it is necessary to publish this latest image on the front page. The media has a responsibility in presenting the facts. However, when this steps over the line it becomes a gratuitous action for the purpose of selling more papers, and the question of how far they can go must be asked.