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Tuesday, 16 March 1965

Senator ANDERSON (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Customs and Excise) - I am grateful to the honorable senator for asking this question because it enables me to supply the Senate with the facts in relation to regulatory power, as the honorable senator chooses to describe it, concerning censorship. It is quite true that importation of four issues of the magazine "Fact" has been prohibited under Item 22 of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations. It is the normal practice for periodicals and magazines to be dealt with under Item 22, which provides for prohibiting the importation of literature which unduly emphasises matters of sex, horror, violence or crime.

Honorable senators will recognise that this is a delegated authority because, quite clearly, the Minister for Customs and Excise would not have enough hours in the day and the night personally to handle all the magazines containing this particular type of literature which goes across the board. But I want to make it clear that it is competent for any publisher or any constituent or any member of parliament to ask the Minister to have an examination made of any item which has been prohibited under Regulation 22. It is my practice - and indeed I understand it was the practice of my predecessor - that where a request is made for a review of an item under Regulation 22 the Minister personally sets about having a critical look at it. I understand reference has been made to volume 6 of " Fact " in criticism of this decision to prohibit. Following representations made to me I have undertaken to review the decision, which I think everybody will recognise is a normal and healthy approach to the matter. Concerning the final point raised by Senator Cormack - I know he raised it only for the purpose of bringing out the issue - I would like to say that I have personally seen some copies of this particular magazine and I am satisfied that at least the ones I saw did, in fact, come within the province of Regulation 22 which, I repeat, concerns matters of sex, horror, violence or crime. There is no suggestion at all that any prohibitions under Regulation 22 have ever had anything to do, in the field of censorship, with political matter or, indeed, commercial practice.

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