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Friday, 22 February 1985
Page: 83

Senator REYNOLDS —I address my question to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. Is the Minister aware that the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics has recently reported its findings that the majority of murders are committed by men when attacking their wives. In view of this horrifying statistic, is it not totally unacceptable that the Film Censorship Board should have allowed the current screening of the film Body Doubles, which highlights a particularly offensive and brutal murder of a woman? How can Australians have any faith in a censorship board which apparently accepts a film by director Brian de Palma, who is reported to have said: 'I don't want to chop up women but it seems to work'? Will the Minister ensure that the Film Censorship Board reviews procedures for the screening of such degrading material?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I have not seen the film in question and am unable to comment on the degree of violence in it; nor have I seen the context in which Mr de Palma uttered the quote which Senator Reynolds put before us. I am not in a position to appreciate whatever it was he was trying to say. I am advised, however, that the film Body Doubles was classified 'R' for cinema exhibition by the Film Censorship Board. It was a unanimous decision by the three Board members reviewing it, who considered it as being a film in the Hitchcock tradition. The Motion Picture Association of America has also classified it as 'R'. That organisation, as no doubt Senator Reynolds will be aware, is not notorious for the open-mindedness or liberality with which it gives classifications of that kind. So I think it depends on what is in the film rather than descriptions of it of a lurid kind that we have all seen from various sources.

The question of public exhibition of material depicting sexually violent acts has, however, been of concern, as I can personally testify, to the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General and the Senate Select Committee, or the Joint Select Committee as it will now be, on Video Material, which is currently examining the legislation affecting this issue as it relates to videos. No doubt when it reports the whole issue of classification of film will be considered not only by the Government but by Parliament and the Board itself. I will certainly draw Senator Reynolds's concerns to the attention of the Attorney-General for such further action or response as he might like to make.