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Monday, 11 November 1991
Page: 2827


Senator HARRADINE (4.21 p.m.) —I would like to commend and endorse the remarks of Senator Bjelke-Petersen. With the profit which is contained in the annual report of the Australian Postal Commission, there is surely no call for increased postal charges. There is, I might say, a large range of services now provided at post offices, including acting as agents for the issuing of passports and for the Australian Taxation Office. I do not see—although I have not had time to look at the report thoroughly—a profit and loss account of those particular services. I do want to congratulate the Postal Commission employees in my State of Tasmania. I have found them to be efficient, very effective and, indeed, very courteous.

  I want to refer briefly to what I believe should be the Commission's responsibilities in the carriage of certain mail. I refer to the International Convention for the Suppression of the Circulation of, and Traffic in, Obscene Publications. Australia Post is making a good deal of money out of the distribution of X-rated videos from this particular city. One of those videos was received in my office in December 1989. I wrote to the relevant Minister, Senator Michael Tate, in March 1990. This video was received without any request from our office. It had two words, both commencing with `F', in its title. If I mentioned the title I am sure I would be contravening Standing Orders.

  It has just come to my attention that that same video, an X-rated video, coming through Australia Post, was one which clearly influenced a person who, in February 1990, pleaded guilty to rape and indecent assault in Victoria. I have the details of the case with me. I am very disappointed that in late 1989—I think it was in December—my amendment to the Postal Services Act through which I sought to prevent Australia Post from carrying this material into the States was unsuccessful. It was unsuccessful by one vote. I am sorry to say that whilst my amendment was supported by the whole of the Opposition and, at that time, by quite a number of Australian Democrats, not one honourable senator on the Labor side voted for that amendment.

  There is increasing concern being expressed in the community about this material being forwarded via Australia Post to various States. That is why I referred to the international convention. I think it is up to Australia Post to look at that convention to see whether it has obligations under that convention, and whether it agrees that there should be some legislative or administrative measure which will prevent this type of material being sent, either solicited or unsolicited, to the other States from Canberra. I would also like to indicate that I will be following up with the Postal Commission the effectiveness or otherwise of its investigation branch.