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Thursday, 27 November 1986
Page: 2896


Senator VIGOR(4.25) —I take up a recent Press release which expressed concern about the delay in the tabling of the report of the Joint Select Committee on Video Material. In August 1984 the Special Minister of State (Mr Young) said that the question of perverse material becoming accessible to children had been studied by the Attorney-General. Mr Young mentioned that in the United States and the United Kingdom it had taken more than three years to deliver findings on the broad general issues. Mr Young stated:

We cannot wait that length of time. By focusing on specific targets, we hope that the Joint Committee will be able to reach useful conclusions within a time-frame consistent with careful deliberation and receipt of both scientific research and properly argued submissions from various community groups.

I understand that quite a deal of evidence has been tendered about the exposure of children to R-rated material. Could we have some indication from the Government as to whether it will move on any area before the Committee report is tabled? For instance, would it be possible to have separate display areas for R-rated material and more effective labelling requirements to warn of the unsuitability for children of some of this material? Could this be established initially in the Australian Capital Territory as a test area? It might help to push the other States to take the same action-if it is a State-Commonwealth disputed area-if the Australian Capital Territory had suitable legislation or ordinances to handle this matter. Other measures could be taken by the Attorney-General (Mr Lionel Bowen), the Minister for Territories (Mr Scholes) or other Ministers. Is there any prospect of government action within the next six months? I have had a number of submissions from groups such as the Australian Council for Children's Films and Television and various other groups. Some of them seem to have been stimulated by Senator Harradine's comments. Basically, it seems to be an important matter which needs some type of resolution. The delays seem to be very difficult to explain. Could the Minister give me some indication as to why there have been these delays and what type of time scale he expects for providing suitable means of controlling this type of material?