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Thursday, 28 March 1985
Page: 953


Senator ELSTOB(12.28) —Firstly, I congratulate the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Video Material, Senator Jones. He did an excellent job in the short time the Committee had to consider the video material. I pay tribute to the Secretary of the Committee, Ron Wiber, and Mary Louise Willheim. The staff worked extremely hard and did a magnificent job. I support the majority recommendation of the Committee. It is absolutely essential in dealing with this type of material to have uniform laws throughout Australia. Owing to section 92 of our Constitution a person living in a State that does not have one set of regulations or laws regarding this type of material can easily transport it interstate.

Uniform laws were sought and the States all agreed to ban X-rated material. The Australian Capital Territory is the only place in Australia where X-rated material is still available. The moratorium that the Committee has recommended be placed on the sale or hire of X-rated material should be instituted. I say that without prejudice. However, that does not mean to say that the Joint Select Committee on Video Material should not look further at all the ramifications of that, but in the meantime I believe that that action is essential.

It is also necessary that the Film Censorship Board have extra staff and most certainly a computer in order to do its job. I picked up a videotape in a shop. It was called Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. That video was unclassified and according to the law could not be sold or hired. That is ridiculous. Hundreds of films for video and television are being held up simply because the Board does not have enough resources to do its work. I must say that the Australian Capital Territory Federal Police have done a magnificent job. I place no blame on them. It would be unfair for anyone to ask them to apply the law as it stands. If they did, they most certainly would have to close down many businesses. I believe that the video shops in the Australian Capital Territory are trying to do the right thing, to comply with the law as it should be. However, it is impossible for them to do so. That sort of situation should not exist. Laws should apply. It is unfair to ask whole sections of our community to overlook these laws. That is no way to carry on.

Senator Zakharov mentioned the proposed ER-rated classification. We made no recommendation about the ER-rated classification. That does not mean to say that the Joint Committee cannot look further at it. As I said, the Senate Select Committee worked for only a very short period. There are other aspects that the Joint Committee should, and undoubtedly will, look into. That is finally up to the Committee. What we have said is without prejudice. I would like to see our recommendations go forward, certainly as an interim measure. Finally, I congratulate all members of the Committee. They all worked very hard under a lot of pressure.