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Violence on Television



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A " ™ RELEASE8 November 1992Shadow Minister for CommunicationsManager of Opposition Business in the House of RepresentativesWARWICK SMITH M.P.VIOLENCE ON TELEVISIONIt is clear the Prime Minister has finally realised that violence on television is an issue in Australia. Where has he been?The p o s t Recent test for the Prime Minister was in June during debate on the Broadcasting Services * Bill which established the development of voluntary industry codes. During that debate, amendments moved by the Coalition would make mandatory. ratheY than optional, the matters that are to be taken into account in the development of codes of practice and that standards reflect community attitudes to matters of taste and decency. The Government would not suppprt the amendment.·.<>· ' ' · ·. · ; '■ We also moved an amendment to remove the "R" category for Pay TV and to apply the standards for commercial television pending the completion of "Australia-wide qualitative and quantitative research on community standards of taste and decency".It is Mr Keating who allows X-rated material to continue to flood the nation from Canberra. We are totally opposed to the continuation of such material being available. Mr Keating has long been in a position to do something about it and has chosen not to. ?To say that because he has given the networks an easy ride on Pay TV and therefore they must be required to make some changes on violence is typical of his style of political bargaining. .The two matters should be seen as distinct issues.Concern about violence and sexually explicit material on television has been addressed by us on many occasions without any response from the Government.The protection of children is particularly important. During the passage of the Broadcasting Services Bill (the first major rewrite of broadcasting legislation in 50 years) we moved that a children’s television standard be established jointly by the new Australian Broadcasting Authority and the Australian Children's Television Foundation, This likewise was not accepted by the Government. We also required that the codes for commercial television governing children's television violence be applied to Pay Television. What is the Government's attitude with regard to this matter?.COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MICAH

2.

Pay Television legislation is about to be re-introduced. The Coalition will be proposing amendments about these matters which will test the Government's bonafides on requiring a much stronger approach to violence on television.

I am concerned about other issues as well. Promotions for later evening programs used to titillate viewers are shown during children's viewing time and the graphic footage during news and current affairs is likewise a concern.

Clearly the community has strong views that need to be taken on board by the ABA and by the developers of voluntary codes on commercial television.

The national broadcasters, too, must respond to community attitudes, As a parent, I often see material on the national broadcasters that I believe would breach a commercial code - even those codes in their current form. I do not believe they should escape scrutiny during this debate.

What must emerge out of this debate are codes that are truly reflective of the attitudes and standards of the community as a whole and, in particular, that children are protected from unwholesome influences. Anything less than this is not acceptable to the many thousands of petitioners (over 14,000 signatures) that

have been contacting my office and the many hundreds of families that have written to me during the course of debate on the Broadcasting Services Bill.

The Prime Minister has come to this debate very late indeed and seemingly for all the wrong reasons. This is not a deal with the commercial television industry. This is a much more important matter and Mr Keating cheapens the debate by linking it as some sort of trade-off with regard to Pay TV.

He will soon have the chance in the Senate to give effect to his views. He did not do so in the recent past. I ^oubt he will do so now. As usual his is a 'political' agenda. "

003/448 517 Or 06/277 4200 (tonight)