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Thursday, 11 June 1970


Mr HAYDEN (Oxley) - by leave- Mr Deputy Speaker, when we speak of censorship we are talking about the moral values of a society. These of course come from our social mores and in turn are based on the conventions which have developed by a society over the ages. There is nothing immutable about these moral values.. Although some may give the appearance of being enduring because they have been of such long standing within a society, in fact it is quite wrong to think in terms of absolutes in relation to human behaviour or the standards which a society adopts in relation to that behaviour, lt is surprising, therefore, to find from the statement of the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) that it has been 32 years since a discussion has been held in this House on the subject of censorship. I commend him for bringing this matter forward for discussion.

I rather suspect that all too often in the past the subject of censorship has been regarded amongst politicians as something akin to a putrefying mullet upon a particularly steamy summers day. Yet this is a quite unreasonable and indeed irresponsible attitude for people in our position. We are concerned about the standards of conduct in society and the sorts of prohibitions which we adopt in relation to that conduct. lt often happens that people's behaviour standards, their needs and the direction they are taking have in fact gone well beyond the constrictions which are demanded by the conventional standards and which we have imposed upon them by legislative means. 1 believe this is the case on the subject of censorship. With so much discussion about the subject today it seems fairly clear that there are many misconceptions on this subject in relation to its needs and the benefits or otherwise which it gives to a community. But let me repeat before [ proceed to discuss this subject to any extent that I do warmly welcome the statement of the Minister. He has posed some provocative questions and sunken his teeth into what could very well be some controversial issues. I have no doubt that when his statement receives publicity he will receive abundant mail from various members of the community indicating their attitudes one way or the other.

I am interested to see in his statement that he hopes to open up the processes of censorship in the community. I do not know explicitly what he has in mind. A little later 1 will refer to the situation in New Zealand and to what I think we ought to do. But certainly it is desirable that when decisions are made on subjects such as this there ought to be an open discussion. Indeed, I hope when we return from the winter recess that we have a free, full and candid discussion in this House on this important subject, lt is a matter which involves for all of us, I would expect, an issue of conscience, and we ought to bc free as possible to express our point of view on the matter. I perhaps ought to indicate my attitude on this subject. First of all, there is some concern about the effects of exposure to brutality upon a person's personality development. The Minister mentioned the President's committee of inquiry, headed by Dr Eisenhower, on this subject. I have read the report and I note the comments he has made on this subject. But there are other works too which seem to indicate that there is concern that in fact there may be some deleterious effects on the personality development of certain classes of people, especially in certain age groups as a result of extended exposure to this sort of matter.

So far as censorship relating to sexual matters is concerned, from what 1 have read there is absolutely no evidence at all to justify a continuation of censorship on these matters. From what I have read - 1 will put my case a little later - I have become convinced, and I would be happy to support the view here, that we should not have censorship on subjects related to sexual matters where adults are concerned. Let us look quickly at the situation of censorship in this country today. I expect from what the Minister has said that he wants to do something constructive about censorship. The current situation highlights a mess of conflict, confusion, inconsistency and irrationality.

Let me deal, as an example, with the kinds of forces we have as censors in Queensland. We have the Department of Customs and Excise, the Post Office, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, the National Literature Board of Review, the Film Censorship Board, the State Literature Review Board and the State police. There are 7 bodies in all. On top of these, of course, we have in the final result the State Government and the Federal Government, if they want to effect some sort of influence on these matters. But just imagine the confusion, the conflict and the duplication that arises from the proliferation of these bodies. From what I. can discover, on none of these bodies is there a qualified psychologist, psychiatrist, criminologist or sociologist. Yet these would seem to be the people we ought to have serving on these bodies. Again, just how well qualified are the censors in the community? In saying this I am reminded of the old phrase: Who censors the censors? Tn any event, let us consider the Department of Customs and Excise. This Department has had some splendid moments when it has called sternly for the withholding of imported books until they were thoroughly investigated.

Let me give some of the titles of these books. One was called: Trouble Over a French Wife*. This turned out to be a cook book. Another one was entitled: 'Fun in Bed', which turned out to be a book on games for sick children. 'Your Game and Mine' turned out to be a discussion on tennis. My colleague, the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) will be interested in this particularly enticing title: 'Between Man and Man', lt was a book on philosophy, and that is why it would be of interest to him. This indicates the rather peculiar way in which censors have been known to act. It indicates in my opinion that there is a need for better informed people and more realistic procedures than has been the case, at least on some occasions in the past, to handle this important area of the community's civil liberties, of its right to express itself and to inform itself.

I can never understand why in the Australian community we are so frightened of ideas. It does not matter a dot whether the Fascists, the Communists, the Social Creditors of the Henry George Leaguers are spreading their ideas. Let them spread them. They are only ideas and we have nothing to fear from them. Yet from what I can see there seems to be evidence that this spillover of censorship does in fact move beyond sexual matters and beyond matters of brutality into what are actually political matters. But I am ' wandering away from the qualifications of people who censor. We often call upon the hapless policeman, who is not educated for this fairly delicate role in our society and which calls for a high degree of judgment based on, I feel, a well informed mind drawing on a reservoir of education over some years. In a Melbourne court a few years ago we had the classic case of the book 'We were The Rats'. The vice squad sergeant was under cross-examination and he was asked: 'Have you heard of Byron?' He replied: 'No.' He was asked: 'He was a Lord?' The answer was: 'Yes, I have heard of him.' The next question was: 'Do you know whether he was a member of Lord Mountbatten's staff for the South East Asia command?' He replied: 'I do not know.' Do you know whether he was a war correspondent?' He answered: 'I know he was a writer, but I am sot sure if he was a war correspondent.' Then he was asked: Have you heard of Shelley?' He said: '1 know a man in Sydney named Shelley, but I take it you refer to an author or something?' The next question was: 'Have you heard of Chaucer? 'No', he said. 'Never met him in the vice squad?' he was asked. No', he replied. The witness said that the word 'bloody' offended him. He admitted he did not know the meaning of the word pornographic.

Again in the State of Victoria the vice squad censured the gaming squad at a display at the police exhibit at the Royal Show by disfiguring playing cards which the gaming squad had set up depicting a naked woman. A member of the gaming squad is reported to have claimed that the vice squad did this only because the gaming squad had a better display than the vice squad. This is humorous. But it is also stupid because people's rights are interfered with because of this sort of thing. But they are interfered with not only in this particular area. The new apocalypse school of poetry is probably the best example of how irrational we have been in handling censorship. In 1944 the 'Angry Penguins' a literary publication dedicated to promoting what was called the new apocalypse school of poetry, suddenly unearthed a celebrated and immortal Australian poet named Ern Malley. Unfortunately the person who was publishing this and who ought to remain anonymous - although most people knew who he was - did not realise that MacAuley and Stewart were responsible for slogging a lot of lines together out of context from various poems and creating this poetry of the mythical Malley which was lauded by the people who were promoting this school of poetry. But the police excelled themselves. A police sergeant seized the publication. The person who was publishing the poetry appeared in court and was subsequently convicted for producing obscene work. The upshot was that the policeman received a commendation for good police work.

The Minister says that censorship in our society involves subjective values. Indeed it does. What I regard as something which ought to be censored is not necessarily what somebody else would regard ought to be censored. When one gets into this area of complete ridiculousness which affects the rights of the people in the community, then one must pose a grave question about the censorship which exists in the community. Our behaviour towards censorship has been somewhat inconsistent. By 1928 the complete list of banned works of literature was made up of 3 books: Balzac's 'Droll Stories'; cheap editions of Boccaccio's Decameron', and cheap editions of

Rabelais. By the 1930s blue nosed puritanism had apparently afflicted us and 5,000 books appeared on the banned list. A Victorian State member of Parliament suggested that the only way to counter the appeal of 'filthy and boldly pornographic books like "Ulysses" was to encourage more early and happy marriages'. Today only a few hundred books appear on the banned list. As the Minister has indicated, we have become less restrictive in applying censorship in the community.

There we were in 1928 with only 3 books on the banned list and no one was being polluted or corrupted by the other books which were available. By the 1930s 5,000 books were on the banned list. We had this intellectual constriction. Now only a few hundred books are on the banned list. Most of those 5,000 books presumably are available and in circulation. The quality of intellectual behaviour in the community is much higher than it has ever been, just as in 10 years time it will be even higher than it is today. No evidence exists that people were undermined, that their morality was completely destroyed, or that the fibre of this community was sapped because these books were available. What happens when these books are released from the banned list? Often they recede into obscurity or survive unspectacularly as in the case of Lady Chatterly's Lover'. The irrationality of it all. Colonel Sheppard, the Australian publisher of 'The Trial of Lady Chatterly' could not import the book so he could print it. He posted the book to himself page by page from England. It was an awfully expensive exercise. It was legal to do this page by page. Bill if he posted that book in toto he would have broken the law.

At one stage I read the 'ABZ of Love' which is a small encyclopaedia of love. I recommend it to young marrieds; it is quite a responsibly informed book on heterosexual relations for society. For a considerable number of years that book was banned in Australia. I made representations on behalf of people who had had the book sent to them from England, where it could be read. They found it was seized when it arrived here. If I were in England a week earlier 1 could have read it and nothing would have happened to mc, but when I arrived in Australia presumably I would have been undermined, my morals would have been destroyed. This is utter rubbish, because the book has now become available in Australia unless, of course, sou live in that particularly blue nosed State of Queensland where it has been banned under the peculiar laws which exist there. Beardsley's art prints have been banned in that State. I believe they are about to be banned in New South Wales although I am not clear on that. There has been some court action. These art prints and the 'ABZ of Love' have been available and in circulation in the community for some time and there is no evidence that they have destroyed people's moral standards.

An example of the immaturity of Australian society is the film 'Ulysses' which was endorsed by the United States Catholic League of Decency as morally unobjectionable for adults,. This film cannot bc seen here, lt can be seen in the United Kingdom and New Zealand. I assume we do not have the maturity to withstand the onslaught of this sort of thing. It is self-contradictory. Joyce's 'Ulysses', Huxley's 'Brave New World' and Hemingway's 'Farewell to Arms' are now freely available, as is Baldwin's Another Country'. There has been no breakdown in society

I can give honourable members the irrationality of censorship from my personal experience. While I ani in thi.s Parliament it would seem that I am suddenly steeled with a special quality in my character derived because I walk through the lobbies of Parliament House and thus I can read banned books. I remember the first banned book I. read which was 'Lolita'. I had to wait 3 or 4 weeks for it because my friend the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) had it ahead of me. I put myself on an equal footing with him. I read it because, like him, 1 was concerned about the social implications of the banning of this work; that was all. I obtained it from the Library. I placed an order which was written into a book. One day a winsome young female tiptoed up to me and whispered in a very suggestive way: "That book you wanted is available'. To read that book I had to go into a room with one of the attendants. When we got into the room the door was locked and the book produced. But members of Parliament have improved since those days because now they are able to take the book home for a week or two.

What I am putting is the absolute stupidity upon which a lot of our censorship laws are based and the way we apply these restrictions.

I can remember the Sunday 'Truth' in Queensland a few years ago writing about the 'Kama Sutra' and saying that only one volume was available in Queensland and that volume was locked away in the vault of the public library and only those authorised - there were very few of them - such as research students in some fields of social medicine were allowed to see it because any ordinary member of the community would be so enraged that he could not be trusted in the general community. Anyone who has had a look at the 'Kama Sutra' or even read it must have a great deal of patience and perseverence to do so. I think he would find it a fairly dull sort of publication. Indeed, the argument can be put forward legitimately on the basis of psychiatric research that among those who stridently call for censorship of sexual matters there are those who have a problem of repressed sexuality. This is the way this ought to be looked at. There is no evidence that people have been morally corrupted because of exposure to these works. The Kinsey Institute of the United States in an exhausive study of 15,000 sex offenders showed that there was no casual relationship between pornography and sex offences. Indeed, it suggested that the very fact that some people displayed an inability to obtain normal fantasy release through sublimation when exposed to these works distinguished them - these were sex offenders - from the normal people in society. At San Quentin goal in recent times there was a survey of 50 sex offenders. It was discovered that none had read pornography and indeed that most of them were unable to read.

Of course, we have the case of Denmark where in fact a commission of sociologists, psychologists and educationists reported that there is no evidence that erotic realism promoted juvenile delinquency and other forms of anti-social behaviour such as sex crimes in our society. Since censorship on sexual matters has been lifted in that community there is in fact no evidence to relate exposure to these matters to an upsurge in sexual behaviour. In fact, it seems to be quite the contrary. What is going to be an offensive or obscene matter - and I hark back to what I said earlier - is pretty much in the minds of people who are exposed to these things. A friend of mine who is a sociologist told me of a classic case when he was at one of the penitentiaries in the United States of America about 5 or 6 years ago. At this establishment he was applying the rhonschach test or the ink blotter test on some of the inmates. As he was leaving one of the inmates said: 'Goodbye doc, it was great having you here today. Don't forget to bring back some of those dirty pictures next week when you return'.

There is no evidence to relate casual sexual offenders to exposure to these matters. I would like to quote from Dr Bray who is now the Chief Justice of South Australia. The work he has carried out on censorship was published in the 'Australian Library Journal' of June 1968. He said:

It has fallen to my lot to discuss with a good many offenders, juvenile and adult, the reasons for their acts but I have never known any of them to ascribe his downfall to a perusal of the works of Ovid, Petronius, Chaucer, Rabelais, Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, Norman Lindsay, Erskine Caldwell or Henry Miller.

Indeed, such evidence is not available. We ought to shield children in our society if necessary but this does not mean that we therefore must deprive adults by reducing their intellectual diet to that appropriate for a juvenile level. United States Justice Frankfurter had this to say:

The State insists that by thus guaranteeing the general public against books not too rugged for grown men and women in order to shield juvenile innocence, it is exercising its power to promote the general welfare. Surely, this is to burn the house to roast the pig. The incidence of this enactment is to reduce the adult population of Michigan to reading only what is fit for children. [Extension of time granted.]

I will conclude on the point: What ought to be done in Australia regarding censorship? We need a uniform law on censorship. For this to be established, of course, is not without its problems. We have several States and we have varying attitudes of enlightenment within those States extending all the way across the spectrum of an informed mind and a tolerant mind from Premier Dunstan in South Australia to Sir Henry Bolte in Victoria. I leave it to people to place them at the appropriate extremes of the scale. We need, of course, as the Minister is proposing, 'X' or 'R' certificates for films. But more important than anything else we need some sort of tribunal. Perhaps I could best sum up my attitude about what ought to be done by this tribunal by putting my argument in this way: Censorship laws should conform to the general principle that adults should be entitled to read, hear and view what they wish in private or public and that persons and those in their care should not be exposed to unsolicited material which is offensive to them. Thai is, they make a free choice on this. If I go to a film such as 'Married Couple' and I do not like it because there is a 4-letter word I walk out. If I am interested in a film I should be allowed to stay and watch it. But no-one is flinging this out on the streets for display. lt is something about which I make a private decision. The general public is noi exposed against its will to films shown in a public theatre - it is something people choose to do. Similarly, if I pick up a book and read it and there is something erotic in it, of course if it is well written it will stimulate me just the same as something sad will make me sad. lt is a failure on the part of the author if he docs not achieve this sort of result. Bui if I do not like that book 1 shut it. I put it away. No-one is forcing me to read a book or to see a film or a show.


Mr Chipp - ls the honourable member suggesting that there be no censorship of books or films at all for adults?


Mr HAYDEN - Yes, indeed I am. I believe in this on sexual matters although I have some reservations about violence at this stage. In order to implement these principles a judicial tribunal should be established to hold public hearings and to give published reasons on its conclusions. Commonwealth laws on censorship, imported books, records and films should be altered accordingly.

I understand that in New Zealand there is an interesting arrangement. In that country there is an indecent publications tribunal. Of course, (his is related only to publications. The tribunal consists of 5 men and the chairman is a barrister or solicitor of the Supreme Court. The decisions of this tribunal in practice have all been taken openly and publicly. People have a right to put their point of view or to refer matters to the tribunal. At the end of 3 years any matter previously decided upon by the tribunal can be resurrected for further decision by the tribunal1. So we have in New Zealand a much freer intellectual climate. In that country books are available which are not available here.

The Other Victorians' by Steven Marcus is an impeccable academic work. Although it is classed as pornographic i believe it has been written for academic purposes. This hook has been constructed at academic level, lt is nol rubbish, lt is not aimed to be pornographic in the generally accepted crude sense of the word. This academic work is available in New Zealand and in other countries. But it is not available here. We do not even know why it is not available in Australia. I believe it ought to be made available in our community. The fundamental weakness in the censorship argument is that it implies we can only be kept good and pure and virtuous if we arc kept in ignorance. In other words virtue can find ils justification and preservation only in ignorance. 1 find this completely unacceptable as a proposition.

Who are the censors? The people who are always upholding censorship are concerned about other people's standards in society and never about their own. They do not become corrupted by exposure to these things but others may become corrupted. 1 would like to quote from the Arts Council report to the British Government in 1969. This article sums up the position so appropriately. If slates:

In the light of all this it becomes less mysterious (hat nobody appears to lind in himself an cample of a person actually depraved by erotica. Nobody seems even 10 have met such a person. Far more people claim to have seen u ghost. So discussion tends to centre on a hypothetical, unencountered them' in contrast to incorruptible 'us'.

The basic philosophical issue for our democratic society is that there are rights for minorities, lt Ls no: a democracy that is run by a majority which believes that a decision made by the majority must at all times bc upheld, even whore it arises as a result of moral standards which become somewhat osified in a conservative environment because they have not been subjected to critical scrutiny as frequently and as intensively as should be desirable in a liberal society. 1 would like to quote an extract which reads:

Morality is not prompted by chanting copy book maxims, or by drawing a grossly over-simplified black and white picture of life. Moral insight requires a deep and subtle understanding of human beings and how they think, feel and behave, in all their variety.

And again:

It is not for the author to be didactic, but for the reader ...

I accept this as a principle. I find censorship today in Australia a mass of confusing and conflicting laws, and of censorship bodies. I have doubts about the qualifications of many people who are censors. I find that there is much inconsistency in the way in which censorship practices are applied. I find that there is an inability in the law to define obscenity as, indeed, there must be because after all it is a subjective term. Fox very nicely puts the subject in his work 'The Concept of Obscenity' when, in his introduction, he states:

The author of any work on obscenity very quickly realises that he is in no better position than the delegates to the Geneva Conference on the Suppression of the Circulation and Traffic in Obscene Publications who discovered that they could not define obscenity, ' . . . after which, having triumphantly asserted that they did not know what they were talking about, (they) settled down to their discussion'.

Frankly, this is the problem we face when we discuss this matter. There are also philosophical values of the rights of minorities in a free society. I think that by now my attitude on censorship is reasonably clear.

Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.







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