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Thursday, 9 August 2007
Page: 131


Mr WAKELIN (11:14 AM) —I support the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Amendment (Advertising and Other Matters) Bill 2007. It is a sign that the government is responding to the issues that the previous speaker raised, even though we may see things slightly differently. The bill has been well described; there are clearly two areas of reform of classification procedures. As my colleague said, the amendments contained in this legislation are in conjunction with those in state and territory legislation.

The definition of ‘advertisement’ is important. It addresses the issue of new and evolving technology and the internet. There has been a lot of public consultation in response to industry concerns. The issue of piracy has arisen. I have already mentioned rapid advances in technology, which means there is quite a limited time frame within which to view and make classifications of film and other product.

The bill also enables a legislative instrument to set conditions on the advertising of unclassified films and computer games. An aspect that was interesting to me was a strong new advertising message to encourage consumers to check the classification. I must admit that it is only in recent years that I have become more aware of this matter, the whole debate around it and what is actually occurring. It is quite topical, having regard to the discussion of the Northern Territory Indigenous issue as well. It is important to check the classifications, and that those classifications endeavour to resonate with the people that we hope they might resonate with.

Industry based self-assessment is always the preferred method for me. I heard what my colleague said in the previous contribution. I am happy to have industry self-assessment, but I signal to the industry that if we need to firm this up, I would be more than happy to look at that as well.

The general appeals mechanism, with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal able to review decisions by the director, seems sensible. Other safeguards include initial and annual training for individual assessors, random and complaints based auditing procedures, and allowing the director to call in advertisements.

I thank the Attorney-General for the work that has gone into this. In his second reading speech he stated:

The amendments contained in this bill will ensure that the national classification scheme continues to serve both industry and the public well by responding to the needs of the rapidly evolving world of entertainment media while still guaranteeing the reliability of classification information for consumers.

I turn to the explanatory memorandum. It states that the bill enables an advertising assessment scheme and a television series assessment scheme to be established under the 1995 legislation. Schedules 1 and 2 give the details that I have already described. With respect to the financial impact statement, the Commonwealth does not expect there to be any particular impact in that regard. In fact, it makes the point that the television series assessment scheme is intended to result in cost reductions to industry. That will no doubt be welcomed by industry.

Item 4, ‘exempt film or computer game’, makes a consequential amendment to the definition of an exempt film or computer game in order to reflect the change in policy that unclassified films and computer games can be advertised where it is done in accordance with the conditions to be set out in a new instrument. The effect of the amendment is that a film or computer game is not exempt from classification if it contains an advertisement for an unclassified film or computer game that has not been assessed or has been assessed as likely to be classified M or higher.

I do not think I can add anything more to the discussion of this legislation. I thank the Main Committee for its time.