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Thursday, 11 June 1970

Mr CHIPP (Hotham) (Minister for Customs and Excise) [3.44J - by leave - In the past few months the subject of Australian censorship of both films and literature has been widely discussed in newspapers and magazines and On radio and television. There have been numerous meetings on censorship at universities and other places. There have been cases of picketing of theatres by an organised movement against censorship, lt has become clear that the Australian public now has a livelier interest in the subject than at any previous time. Because the community is so clearly indicating its wish to be more concerned with the principles and systems of Australian censorship, I decided that I should make a statement to the House on the present censorship position and on the Government's attitude to a controversial and sometimes emotional matter.

I should like to remind honourable members that Australian censorship laws are administered under regulations made by the Parliament. The responsibility does not lie merely with the Minister of the day, nor with the public servants charged with the task of interpreting and applying the regulations. The responsibility stems from the Parliament which, in a social matter of this kind must, from time to time, carefully examine the legislation and its application in the light of current community needs; and I remind the House that the regulations have stood on the statute book, in virtually the same form, since Federation. I am reliably informed that this is the first major statement on censorship to be made in this chamber since 1938, although there have been very occasional statements made in the Senate. It would be trite for me to observe, and to enlarge on the observation, that we have seen great social changes in the past 32 years, lt would be unnecessary, and probably tedious, to give the House in this statement a detailed history of social and cultural attitudes and their shifts during that period. Suffice to say that the rate of change has quickened as the years have gone by. stimulated by a variety of events and factors. We are now conscious of an almost daily change. Many deplore the bewildering pace of social development as we enter the 1970s; some deplore that there is any development at all. Be that as it may, we must face reality and we must examine censorship and. indeed, all social and cultural matters affecting the community at large, against conditions and attitudes as they are, at the particular time.

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