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Wednesday, 3 November 1976
Page: 2325

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - Some months ago the Liberal-National Country Party Government took a bold step, against organised opposition, and carried out the previous Government's proposal to ban tobacco and cigarette advertising on radio and television. Tonight we heard the honourable member for Higgins (Mr Shipton) speak about the quality of children's television programs. I congratulate him on his worthwhile contribution to the debate this evening. I wish to speak on another point which relates very much to that subject. That I supported the ban on tobacco and cigarette advertising should not be construed as a lack of appreciation on my part of the revenue problems confronting the electronics media in some regions; nor should it be thought that I am an advocate of wholesale interference by government in dictating to the media that which should be advertised or the manner in which advertising should be presented. But I am an advocate of responsibility and standards in advertising.

Though I see little television, I am concerned about the growing practice in our country of television advertising being directed towards children. It is universally recognised that television is the top impact medium. It is the most expensive. No one spends huge amounts of money without the anticipation of a huge return. Therefore it must be conceded that the directing of advertising towards children to promote adult usage and child usage products pays handsome dividends to the advertiser. I am free enterprise to the boots, but it is essential to the survival of free enterprise that on occasions constraints be self imposed or government imposed to ensure an unchecked private enterprise system does not eventually lead to its own destruction. I believe in particular that the aiming of adult usage product advertising towards children is creating dislocation which causes immediate problems and which will germinate in the relentless pursuit of the unattainable in adulthood.

It is difficult enough for a parent of the last quarter of the twentieth century to raise children without having to fight commercially developed hang-ups relating to a false need to keep up with the Joneses. Not only do we see small children in these advertisements chastising a parent for not using such and such a product, with the suggestion that the mother or father just does not know what she or he is doing, but also we see children, pumped by clever advertisers, being psyched into believing that if they do not have a particular toy their life is incomplete. Such advertising is bad enough in comic books or newspapers, but I am firmly of the opinion that when a message like this is conveyed by way of television, which is the most successful brainwashing machine yet devised, we are damaging the young.

I am referring specifically to the advertising of soap powders, foodstuffs, dolls and toys. I wonder how many small children these days run home a moment after they fall over and scratch themselves and demand one of the famous products produced by the Johnson and Johnson organisation- the bandaid. I am not referring, of course, to motor car advertisements which depict a family travelling somewhere in a motor car and which say that it is a particularly suitable motor car for family usage and I am not referring to a family group that is depicted in a barbecue situation using a certain product, but I am referring to some of the other things that I mentioned but a moment ago. It might be appropriate to mention, although all the votes have not been counted, that President Ford had an advertisement on American television showing himself convincing a group of children of the virtues of voting for him.

I have been told that the United Kingdom bans child orientated advertisements. If that is so, let us follow the lesson that it has learned from its longer association with its media. Let that be our standard. If not, let us become the standard setter.

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