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Tuesday, 21 August 1984
Page: 13

Senator REID —I preface my question, which is directed to the Attorney-General, by informing him that I have received complaints from parents in Canberra who have hired G-rated videotapes for their children and have been shocked to discover that they contain very explicit scenes from X and R-rated videos advertising those videos. Will the Attorney place an immediate ban on the inclusion of material advertising X and R-rated videos in videos of other classifications? Will he take steps to prohibit the sale and hire of pornographic videos until the joint select committee which he belatedly announced yesterday has reported back to the Parliament?

Senator GARETH EVANS —There has been some concern about X and R-rated material appearing on lesser classified video cassettes, and that is something that has been addressed in the legislation and certainly in the classification standards applied by the Film Censorship Board. It was a matter of discussion and decision at the last meeting of Ministers responsible for censorship, with the decision being-I believe it has now assumed legislative form-that the strongest material on a videotape, whether it be advertising material or otherwise, should determine the classification for the whole tape. It may be that in the early stages of the operation of this scheme nationally and within the Australian Capital Territory that has not as yet been fully applied in practice, but it is something on which obviously strict enforcement is necessary; and I fully accept the principle lying behind Senator Reid's question.

As to placing an immediate ban on pornography in videotapes in the Australian Capital Territory, I simply make the point that we have in existence in the Australian Capital Territory a quite rational system of videotape classification and point of sale and hire controls. To the extent that that system is being applied in accordance with the law and is operating properly, as I believe it is in the overwhelming majority of instances-and I know that that view was certainly taken by Mr Doyle, who is the chairman of the relevant House of Assembly committee and who regards most of the opposition being expressed in the Australian Capital Territory to the present system as an extravagant beat-up- there is a rational system which enables consumers to be given full guidance as to the nature of the material, which, in relation to R-rated material, imposes certain point of sale controls designed particularly to ensure that it does not get into the hands of minors and which, in the case of X-rated material, applies even stronger point of sale controls to ensure that such material is not exposed in any way to minors in a shop and certainly is not purchased by them.

Under those circumstances, and given the imminent joint select committee inquiry on the operation of the law in the Australian Capital Territory, I do not believe there is any case at all to be made for any radical revision of the existing law, and I do not propose to act in that way.