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Thursday, 4 October 1984
Page: 1233


Senator WALTERS(4.26) —We are debating a matter of public importance and seeking to find out why the Government is ducking for cover and not setting up a joint committee on video classification, as was promised by Mr Young in the other place, to review the Customs regulations that Senator Evans introduced on 1 February. We have come a long way since the debate first started back in April , when Senator Evans said it was only a few troglodytes-that is what I think he called us-like me, the Festival of Light, Senator Harradine and a few members of the Liberal Party who were against the regulations. Now the whole of the State of Tasmania, under the Premier, is refusing X-rated videos. Queensland is refusing X-rated videos. Western Australia, Mr Wran in New South Wales and now Victoria have all deserted Senator Evans and those wonderful uniform classifications that he said were all agreed upon by the various Attorneys- General. I guess South Australia will be next and he will be left with the Australian Capital Territory as the only area in Australia that will be prepared to rent out or sell X-rated videos.

Furthermore, groups like the Australian Children's Television School, Victorian psychologists, every feminist organisation, the Jaycees, the Lions Club, the Country Women's Association, and every church oppose the regulations. Tens of thousands of signatures from all over Australia opposing the regulations have been received. We have newspaper headlines such as 'Wran asks Button to ban porn videos'; 'Jaycees demand government action against pornography'; 'Ban X-rated videos says Tasmania'; 'Violent porn really does affect us, the psychologists find'; 'Video reforms'; 'New move for action on videos'; 'Feminists attack porn laws'; and, finally, 'Evans agrees to back video censorship inquiry'. Why did he finally agree? It was because his own troops were deserting them in their thousands. He had all the State Labor parties objecting strongly and found his own backbench deserting him.

Senator Reid told us how Mrs Darling and Mrs Kelly backed off. Indeed, Mrs Kelly said she had no idea the material was so bad. She voted for the regulations, but she had no idea the stuff was so bad. Senator Tate from Tasmania issued a statement which was reported in the Press under the heading ' New move for action on videos'. The report stated:

Tasmanian Labor Senator Michael Tate will move to establish a Federal Government backbench committee to consider issues surrounding pornographic and violent home video movies.

He will move! This proposal had been moved by us and sent to the House of Representatives long beforehand. Then he said the most incredible thing:

'I believe the debate earlier this year was led off the rails by political point-scoring and attempts to personally vilify the Attorney-General,' he said yesterday. 'This may have led to an overly defensive stance by Government members.'

He said:

. . . the Labor Caucus, which meets today at the start of the next Budget session, should take advantage of widespread consultation which members had with their electors over winter.

Senator Tate tells us it was all because we attacked poor Senator Evans that they voted that way in the Senate. What an incredible statement! Senator Crowley is now backing off; she is not participating in the debate today. She has had enough and handed over to Senator Zakharov. Privately, every other Labor senator and member is backing off in the electorates, saying that they will do something about setting up this committee. Of course, the Prime Minister says: 'Well, everybody has the right to hear, read and see whatever they want to in the privacy of their own homes'. The Prime Minister has told us that it is all too horrific to see in the cinemas and that we must not allow X-rated video material to be shown in public cinemas, but that they are all right for home entertainment. What an indictment of any Prime Minister! What an indictment of any Attorney-General! This material is too horrific to be shown in the cinemas, in the public places where viewing by children can be controlled, but it is all right for home entertainment. Wonderful stuff! Through the Freedom of Information Act provisions we were able, as Senator Harradine has already indicated, to get some of the guidelines. I seek leave to have the Film Censorship Board guidelines, copies 1 and 2, incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The documents read as follows-

FILM CENSORSHIP BOARD

Attorney-General's Department

GUIDELINES FOR CLASSIFICATION OF VIDEOTAPES/DISCS FOR SALE/HIRE

G General (suitable for all ages)

Parents should feel confident that all children may view material in classification without supervision, knowing that no distress or harm is likely to be caused.

Language: Some infrequent coarse language (e.g. ''bloody'', ''bastard'', ''arse '', ''piss'') may be found, if non-assaultive.

Sex: Very discreet sexual references or implications only.

Violence: Minimal and incidental depictions of violent activity only.

PG Parental Guidance (suitable for persons 12 years and over)

Material will be found in this classification which would be considered to be too strong for unsupervised viewing by children.

While adult themes may be dealt with they should be handled in a way that would not cause distress or harm to children in a family viewing situation.

Language: Some infrequent crude language (e.g. ''shit'', ''screw'', ''arsehole' ' possibly ''fuck'' in exceptional circumstances) and mild sex-oriented dialogue and jokes.

Sex: Discreet verbal and/or visual suggestions of, and reference to, intercourse and discussions about, for example, menstruation, masturbation, labour and childbirth; visuals of occasional full frontal nudity and head-and- shoulders photo of implied intercourse. (No implications of, for example, oral- genital sex or homosexual sex activity).

Violence: Discreet and sporadic depictions, but if continuous (e.g. kung-fu films) should be inexplicit and/or stylized.

Other: -mild supernatural and/or ''horror'' themes. -informational drug references.

M Mature (suitable for persons 15 years and over)

Material which is considered likely to disturb, harm or offend those under the age of 15 years. While most adult themes may be dealt with, the degree of explicitness and exploitiveness of treatment will determine whether they can be accommodated in this classification.

Language: No word or phrase is proscribed-''fuck'' and ''cunt'', for example, may be found, if not used excessively. (A high degree of assaultiveness or of verbal sexual explicitness is not acceptable.)

Sex: Implied sexual activity, but no ''full length'' depictions of intercourse. Implications of fellatio, cunnilingus, masturbation, etc. may be depicted, if visually discreet.

Violence: May be strong, realistic and sometimes bloody, but not exploitive, relished, very cruel or very explicit, e.g., dismemberment or beheadings, limited to flashes only; sexual violence, e.g., rape, only if very discreet.

Other: Drug abuse depictions, if not advocatory.

R Restricted (18 years and over)

Adult material likely to be harmful to those under 18 years and possibly offensive to some sections of the adult community.

Language: Sexual explicit and/or assaultive dialogue.

Sex: Implied, obscured or simulated sexual activity.

Violence: Explicit depictions with some gratuitous and exploitive violence; decapitations, dismemberment, disembowelling, etc. if briefly shown; discreet sexual violence.

Other: Depictions of use of drugs which might be construed as mildly advocatory .

X Extra Point-of-Sale Controls (18 years and over)

All overt and explicit material, except such as described under ''Refused Classification''.

Language: No proscriptions.

Sex: All depictions of sexual acts involving adults (except those of an extreme sexually violent or cruel nature) including explicit penetration, masturbation, ejaculation, fellatio, cunnilingus, insertion of objects in orifices, urolagnia, necrophilia, coprophilia, sado-masochism, fetishism.

Violence: Explicit depictions (except those referred to under ''Refused Classification'').

Other: Depictions of use of hard drugs which might be construed as advocatory.

Refused Classification

Material considered to be harmful to society, viz:

Language: No proscriptions.

Sex: Child pornography; bestiality.

Violence: Explicit detailed and gratuitous depictions of act of extreme cruelty including extreme sexual violence.

Other: Instruction ''manuals'' for (i) terrorist-type weapons and acts. (ii) abuse of hard drugs.

JANET STRICKLAND

Chief Censor January 1984.

FILM CENSORSHIP BOARD

Attorney-General's Department

GUIDELINES FOR CLASSIFICATION OF VIDEOTAPES/DISCS FOR SALE/HIRE

G General (suitable for all ages)

Parents should feel confident that all children may view material in this classification without supervision, knowing that no distress or harm is likely to be caused.

Language: Some infrequent coarse language (e.g. ''bloody'', ''bastard'', ''arse '', ''piss'') may be found, if non-assaultive.

Sex: Very discreet sexual references or implications only.

Violence: Minimal and incidental depictions of violent activity only.

PG Parental Guidance (suitable for persons 12 years and over)

Material will be found in this classification which would be considered to be too strong for unsupervised viewing by children.

While adult themes may be dealt with they should be handled in a way that would not cause distress or harm to children in a family viewing situation.

Language: Some infrequent crude language (e.g. ''shit'', ''screw'', ''arsehole' '-possibly ''fuck'' in exceptional circumstances) and mild sex-oriated dialogue and jokes.

Sex: Discreet verbal and/or visual suggestions of, and references to, intercourse and discussions about, for example, mestration, masturbation, labour and childbirth; visuals of occasional full frontal nudity and head-and-shoulders shots of implied intercourse. (No implications of, for example, oral-genital sex or homosexual sex activity).

Violence: Discreet and sporadic depictions, but if continuous (e.g. kung-fu films) should be inexplicit and/or stylized.

Other: (i) mild supernatural and/or ''horror'' themes. (ii) informational drug references.

M Mature (suitable for persons 15 years and over)

Material which is considered likely to disturb, harm or offend those under the age of 15 years. While most adult themes may be dealt with, the degree of explicitness and exploitiveness of treatment will determine whether they can be accommodated in this classification.

Language: No word or phrase is proscribed-''fuck'' and ''cunt'', for example, may be found, if not used excessively. (A high degree of assualtiveness or of verbal sexual explicitness is not acceptable.)

Sex: Implied sexual activity, but no ''full length'' depictions of intercourse. Implications of fellatio, cunnilingus, masturbation, etc. may be depicted, if visually discreet.

Violence: May be strong, realistic and sometimes bloody, but not exploitive, relished, very cruel or very explicit, e.g., dismemberment or beheadings, limited to flashes only; sexual violence, e.g., rape, only if very discreet.

Other: Drug abuse depictions, if not advocatory.

R Restricted (18 years and over)

Adult material likely to be harmful to those under 18 years and possibly offensive to some sections of the adult community.

Language: Sexually explicit and/or assaultive dialogue.

Sex: Implied, obscured or simulated sexual activity.

Violence: Explicit depictions with some gratuitous and exploitive non sexual violence; decapitations, dismemberment, disembowelling, etc. if briefly shown; discreet sexual violence.

Other: Depictions of use of drugs which might be construed as mildly advocatory .

X Extra Point-of-Sale Controls (18 years and over)

Language: No proscriptions.

Sex: All explicit depictions of sexual acts involving adults (except those referred to under ''Refused Classification'') including explicit penetration, masturbation, ejaculation, fellatio, cunnilingus; insertion of objects in orifices; miscellaneous other sexual activities and fetishes.

Violence: Explicit depictions (except those referred to under ''Refused Classification'').

Other: Depictions of use of hard drugs which might be construed as advocatory.

Refused Classification

Language: No proscriptions.

Sex: Child pornography; bestiality.

Violence: Detailed and gratuitous depictions of acts of significant cruelty; explicit and gratuitous depictions of sexual violence against non-consenting persons.

Other: Instruction ''manuals'' for (i) terrorist-type weapons and acts. (ii) abuse of hard drugs.

JANET STRICKLAND

Chief Censor

April 1984.


Senator WALTERS —I thank the Senate. The first document contains the original Film Censorship Board guidelines that Senator Evans wanted before there was debate in this place. The second document was put out as a result of debate in this place. The Attorney-General has been rather sneaky because in the first document describing X-rated videotapes he mentions several words in connection with the depiction of sexual acts. When people look up those words in the dictionary they find that the meanings are appalling.


Senator Gareth Evans —Ha!


Senator WALTERS —The Attorney laughs. He does not think they are so appalling. I am referring to coprophilia, necrophilia and urolagnia.


Senator Gareth Evans —I just got a picture of you poring over the dictionary.


Senator WALTERS —I can assure the Attorney that people were looking up those words in the dictionary. Senator Evans might find it amusing, but people have no idea because their imagination does not sink as low as his. They have to look up those words. Senator Evans thought they were a bit much so he had them ruled out of the second copy of the guidelines in which, instead of mentioning them, he calls them 'miscellaneous other sexual activities and fetishes'. The Attorneys- General cannot get away with that sort of thing. There has now been a new meeting of the Attorneys-General. Again, they all came to an agreement. We were assured in the Age of 29 August that the meeting decided they were going to have a new R-plus classification.


Senator Harradine —No, it did not decide that. The Tasmanian contingent did not agree to that.


Senator WALTERS —Senator Evans decided it would be a good idea to have an R-plus classification. We are not talking in this place about blue movies. Senator Evans may well want to make the people think we are talking about blue movies, but we are not.


Senator Robert Ray —What are you talking about then?


Senator WALTERS —We are talking about horrific acts of sexual and other forms of violence. We are talking about material that we saw on the program Four Corners about which Senator Evans said that had he been on the Censorship Board he probably would not have made it X-rated material, as it was a bit tough. The Censorship Board made it very clear that it was going to make that material X- rated. Let us make very clear what we are talking about. Do not pretend to hide under the blue movie stuff. It does not work. That was reported in the Age, but a couple of days later the Victorian Government deserted the Attorney-General. Under the headline 'Ban on X-rated videos', it was reported:

The State Government has decided to ban the sale and hire of X-rated videos, . . .

Thus the fifth State has deserted him. The Attorney-General had the warning in three or four different areas. He had the Victorian psychologists saying that they were doing work that made it very clear that people viewing this material were desensitised by continual viewing. We had the United Kingdom report, which Senator Evans on every occasion tries to discredit. We had a report from the European Parliament. We had a report from West Germany. We had a report from the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances. In that, Government senators said that the Goverment loses control of children's viewing when those types of videos are allowed to enter the home. The Australian Children's Television School report said:

. . . more than 60 per cent of children over the age of 10 surveyed in Sydney admitted to regularly watching X and R-rated video movies after school.

Senator Evans says that all this means nothing. With his great libertarian views , he believes that people want to watch it and ought to be able to watch it. A woman came to me and said that her 11-year-old son had gone to a birthday party, the parents were not home, and they put on an X-rated video. From the description her 11-year-old gave her, it was a dreadful video. She said: 'I could weep. That, as far as I am aware, is the first sexual viewing my son has ever had. For it to be of that variety appals me'. She said that she had asked her son why he did not leave. He replied: 'I couldn't, Mum, not in front of all my mates'. Of course the child could not. The Attorney just makes some flippant reply. Parents cannot control the viewing of their children. It is impossible. Indeed, they would be bad parents if on every occasion they followed what their children were doing. They would suffocate them if they did.

Senator Evans has today sheltered behind the House of Representatives, saying that that House has not yet reached the debate on whether we should set up a committee. I ask him whether he has asked Mr Young in the House of Representatives to speed it up so that we can get that committee set up before this Parliament rises. He is free with his interjections when he wants to be.


Senator Gareth Evans —Yes, I have actually.


Senator WALTERS —And what was Mr Young's reply?


Senator Gareth Evans —He said: 'Yes, sure, as long as you lot don't talk for four hours, which you can be expected to do'.


Senator WALTERS —Are we getting that debate in the other place tonight?


Senator Gareth Evans —I do not know whether it will be today. I hope it will be this week.


Senator WALTERS —The Attorney hopes it will be this week, but we will see. Senator Evans has challenged me on the United Kingdom report. He has attempted in the most despicable fashion to discredit that report. He has done that through various little newspaper reports handed to him by his Department. Has he rung the chairman of that committee of the House of Lords and the House of Commons.


Senator Robert Ray —Have you?


Senator WALTERS —Yes. Not only have I rung him, but while I was in London I visited the committee and its chairman. I had a long meeting with that committee . I also visited Scotland Yard and spoke to its legal experts. I have the full information from both that committee and Scotland Yard, which I intend, as much of it is in camera evidence, to give to the committee if and when Senator Evans ever allows it to be set up. We will not see this committee set up, I do not believe, before the Senate rises. Senator Zakharov said that people have been misled by the comment: 'Open the flood gates to hard core pornography'. She does not even know that her Attorney-General in a memo to his Department said 'The barriers to hard core pornography have been lifted', with his couple of little exceptions. That was the memo to his Department.


Senator Gareth Evans —Would you like to table that document?


Senator WALTERS —Yes, but I do not have it with me. I have it in my room.


Senator Gareth Evans —A couple of little exceptions. What is that?


Senator WALTERS —The couple of little exceptions were 'except for child pornography--


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Sibraa) —Order! There are too many interjections. I would suggest that Senator Walters address the Chair and not the interjectors.


Senator WALTERS —The Attorney-General knows very well that he sent that memo to his Department. I presume that Senator Zakharov was unaware of this. She said that people in Tasmania were horrified or very surprised to know that the State had full control over video material in Tasmania. What utter rot. Of course, Senator Zakharov did not tell the people of Tasmania about the Constitution. She did not say that people quite legally can bring any video material into Tasmania by the case load. The Constitution allows free traffic between the States. I could take back a case of material to Tasmania next week. She did not tell them about that. She did not make them understand that the Federal Government has control over the importation of this rubbish. I sincerely hope that the Government allows the Senate and the House of Representatives to set up a joint committee before we rise for the election that is to be held far earlier than is necessary. The Government will have to answer to the people of Australia if the committee is not set up. We will be asking the Senator Tates of this world as well as Mrs Kelly, Mrs Darling and all of the others who have backed off support in this action.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Sibraa) —Order! The honourable senator's time has expired.