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Wednesday, 17 October 1984
Page: 1843

Senator MASON(12.33) —The Australian Democrats support the motion to establish the Senate Select Committee on Video Censorship, General Business notice of motion No. 135, because we agree that only a Senate committee can be guaranteed continued existence beyond the election to be held on 1 December and, indeed, beyond the dissolution of the House of Representatives, which will be next week. We are now and always have been opposed to violent, cruel and sadistic material on videotape. We understand fully and sympathise with the concern of the community about this matter, especially the concern of parents about the effect of this material on their children which is a very widespread and deep feeling. It has become apparent since this matter was first seriously debated earlier this year.

Earlier this year, because of Australian Democrat initiatives, we were able to make some significant improvements in the regulations so that violent, cruel and sadistic material which is gratuitous is now excluded definitely and absolutely by the Customs regulations. Those regulations were also changed to make classification of this material mandatory rather than voluntary, as was the case in the past. So we are making some significant progress. We made progress then. I made the point in speaking to that issue that this must be a continuing debate in the community, that we had not reached the end of it and that it was necessary for us to establish a community consensus on what was acceptable, right and proper and what the community wanted. In the view of the Australian Democrats nothing could achieve this better than a Senate committee which could go to the public and ask them what they feel. Then the Senate, the Parliament, and hopefully the Government, can be guided by the results of that. On that basis we support this motion.