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Wednesday, 6 June 1984
Page: 2618


Senator MARTIN —My question is directed to the Attorney-General. Has the Government yet made the changes it promised to the regulations governing the entry to Australia and classification of video material? If so, are the amendments fully consistent with the undertaking given to Australian Democrats senators which persuaded them to vote against their own motion for disallowance of the original regulation? If the changes have not yet been made, when will they be made? In view of the concern expressed by the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs about the need to monitor the new system, what arrangements has the Attorney-General instituted to provide for assessment of the changed procedures?


Senator GARETH EVANS —Yes, the regulations were promulgated two days after the debate concluded in this place. I believe they have come into effect in the Australian Capital Territory in the last day or so. That is also the case regarding the Customs regulations. The regulations are consistent with the undertakings that were made not just to the Australian Democrats but to the Parliament. Perhaps Senator Martin has forgotten that during the non-sitting weeks period I circulated the draft text of the proposed ordinance and regulations amendment to all honourable senators in order that they would have a clear indication as to what precisely the Government's intentions were.


Senator Durack —Have you forgotten the undertaking you gave on that occasion?


Senator GARETH EVANS —The honourable senator can indulge in his fantasies over there, but there is nothing other than a straightforward attempt to come to grips with a difficult policy problem and to do so in a much more sophisticated and civilised way than the previous Government ever felt able to do, or has shown itself capable of doing in the course of this debate.

The particular measures that are now, I believe, in place and promulgated mean that there is not only a proper system of point of sale control in the Australian Capital Territory but also a full system of compulsory classification for all videos that are sold or hired in the Australian Capital Territory. As I have stated to the Senate, it is proposed to monitor closely over the period ahead the way the system is actually working. No formal arrangements have yet been devised for such a monitoring process. It is essentially a matter of waiting to see how the thing is operating in six months or so and then exploring the matter with relevant interested parties, of whom there seems to be a legion in the Australian Capital Territory-both video retailers on the one hand and the legion of truth, decency and the Australian way led by hordes of people faithful to the ideals of Senator Walters on the other. But I am sure that between them, with the feminists thrown in, with the House of Assembly members and a cast of 1 ,000 others the Government would have ample submissions before it on which to make some appropriate decision as to whether the legislation needs any modification after a period of operation.


Senator MARTIN —I ask a supplementary question. In view of the beginning of Senator Evans's answer, when does the Government intend to table those regulations?


Senator GARETH EVANS —Regulations are tabled in the normal course after they are promulgated and as a result of the departmental process they are drawn to the attention of the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances. I am not sure what the precise status is. Usually a small time lapse of some days occurs between the formal promulgation by the Governor-in-Council and their appearance in the papers which come before this place. Only a matter of a week or two is involved in this case and nobody's rights or interests have been in any way forfeited as a result of any delay that may have occurred. I am happy to investigate the matter and to do something about a remedy.