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Northern Territory: Attorney-General considers restricting pornography sales after federal Indigenous intervention laws ban porn in remote communities.

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Friday 14 September 2007

Northern Territory: Attorney-General considers restricting pornography sales after federal Indigenous intervention laws ban porn in remote communities


MARK COLVIN: After years of pressure, the Northern Territory Government's considering tougher regulations on the sale of pornography, to help stop the flood of sexually explicit material to Aboriginal communities. 


The NT has the most lenient porn laws in the country. 


There's not even a licensing system to stop illicit traders from setting up shop. 


The Territory Government made its announcement on the same day as the new Federal Government bans on hardcore pornography in remote communities came into effect. 


But only this week a rogue trader began operating through a Darwin post office box.  


Anne Barker prepared this report. 


RADIO ADVERTISEMENT (voiceover): From the 14th of September, pornographic material will be banned in your area. 


ANNE BARKER: Radio ads began broadcasting this week, to sell the Commonwealth's message that hardcore pornography is now prohibited in remote Northern Territory communities, even though the same material is still legal elsewhere. 


RADIO ADVERTISEMENT (voiceover): The aim of these laws is to protect Aboriginal children from harm by stopping pornography in Northern Territory Indigenous communities.  


ANNE BARKER: It's now an offence to possess, control, supply or transport banned material in prescribed communities, with penalties including two years' jail. 


RADIO ADVERTISEMENT (voiceover): Help stop pornography and make your community safer for the kids. 


Authorised by the Australian Government, Canberra. Spoken by J. Blair. 


ANNE BARKER: But on the same day the ban takes force, it's emerged that an illicit trader has set up shop through a Darwin postal box, selling unclassified and refused-classification pornography. 


Robbie Swan from the Eros Association in Canberra says the fact such suppliers can exist at all makes a mockery of the new bans. 


ROBBIE SWAN: There's a refused classification, which is a legal classification in itself, and it means that there is either some sexual violence in these films or they depict underage actors or, you know, something that's really degrading and demeaning. 


ANNE BARKER: And how likely is it that some of this material would be finding its way into Aboriginal communities?  


ROBBIE SWAN: Well, I mean these people are selling these DVDs under $12 each. Now, I mean if you're trying to buy an x-rated film from the ACT, you're looking at at least $30-$40. You know, if there is a potential for one type of adult film to make it onto Aboriginal communities, it's a cheap one. 


ANNE BARKER: The Northern Territory has the most lax porn laws in Australia.  


Only the NT and the ACT allow the sale of x-rated porn, which contains consensual sex between adults. 


But Robbie Swan says, unlike in Canberra, the Territory has no licensing scheme to keep rogue traders out of the industry. 


ROBBIE SWAN: What they have to do is to bring in a regulatory scheme, exactly the same as the ACT, or very similar, where people are charged a very good fee each year to sell x-rated films, that they have to be classified and they have to be, you know, properly sold in the right way. And so you're not allowed to sell them in service stations, you're not allowed to sell them in convenience stores, as is happening in the Northern Territory at the moment. 


ANNE BARKER: The Eros Association says it's spent years lobbying the Northern Territory and Federal Governments, as well as Australia Post, to shut down rogue porn sellers in the NT. 


Now the Territory Attorney General, Syd Stirling, has agreed to consider a new licensing scheme. 


SYD STIRLING: People from the Department of Justice will be in Canberra next week looking very closely at their regime. Is it effective as it is claimed to be in the ACT? If it is, perhaps we should be implementing it here. 


ANNE BARKER: Should Australia Post, too, be doing more? 


SYD STIRLING: Um, if we had the licensing in place it would be a much clearer picture, in the sense of they didn't have a license with the Northern Territory, then it would be against the law for Australia Post to allow them to open up in the first place. 


ANNE BARKER: Australia Post says privacy laws prevent its staff from opening suspect mail, and that it can only shut down a postal box on instructions from police. 


But Robbie Swan says even worse than the problem of postal DVDs is the broadcast of even legal pornography on cable television. 


ROBBIE SWAN: We're not banning the R rating on Foxtel because they probably claim that it's not sexually explicit. Like, you know, it means that you don't actually see explicit sex, you only see simulated sex. But, you see, that's the same thing that's in Category One restricted magazines is only simulated acts of sex, so it's the same thing. 


I mean, you know, why they're not tackling Foxtel on this, I don't know. 


ANNE BARKER: And today, the Indigenous Affairs Minister, Mal Brough, promised the Federal Government would also look at ways to restrict pornography on subscription TV in remote communities. 


MAL BROUGH: We are further looking at, as you pointed out, to Sky TV, or whatever term you want to use, but the satellite television type channels, and we have to use both enforcement, this is why policing on the ground is so important, and we have to make people aware that this material is damaging and it needs to be removed. 


MARK COLVIN: The Indigenous Affairs Minister, Mal Brough, ending Anne Barker's report.