Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 26 November 1986
Page: 2813

Senator MASON(6.28) —Mr Chairman, before I make my remarks on these provisions I would like, with respect, through you to draw attention to standing order 405. I suggest that as a matter of courtesy honourable senators should speak in Committee only when they have received your call. I have noticed a slight but increasing tendency in the chamber for that not to happen. I would like to raise that matter initially.

The CHAIRMAN —Honourable senators do not speak without my call. You have my call now, Senator Mason.

Senator MASON —Thank you, Mr Chairman. I am delighted that I have it. I rise in this debate to speak briefly to the matters raised by Senator Harradine two or three speeches ago. I recall that the circumstances in which disallowance was threatened or considered of the Government's Australian Capital Territory videotape legislation were rather different from what Senator Harradine said. As I recall, I moved for disallowance but the Australian Democrats exacted some very considerable concessions from the Government.

Senator Gareth Evans —Mr Chairman, I raise a point of order. I do not want to interrupt Senator Mason in full flight but he is now reopening the whole debate about the Australian Capital Territory video ordinance, which may have some marginal relevance, I acknowledge, as a demonstration of someone's unhappiness with the disallowance procedure in a particular case, but to get into a detailed analysis and discussion of the rights and wrongs of the procedures that were followed really takes us way outside the ambit of this debate.

Senator Harradine —Mr Chairman, I wish to speak to the point of order. I think it is entirely appropriate that Senator Mason, on behalf of the Democrats, is enabled to deal with the same matter as I dealt with. The point I made was that this was a matter of substance and it ought to be dealt with by substantive legislation, not delegated legislation. I think Senator Mason should be allowed to speak on it.

The CHAIRMAN —Order! The Committee is considering the three amendments moved by Senator Durack. I said at the outset that I would permit discussion of the alternative amendments that have been foreshadowed-one by the Government and three by the Democrats. Senator Harradine did raise in debate the question of the suitability of using delegated legislation. Senator Mason is in order in discussing matters that have been raised but I think he should confine his remarks to the effect on this legislation. In that sense he is in order.

Senator MASON —Thank you, Mr Chairman. I take strong exception to the intervention of the Minister in this matter. I think he is taking a censorial role, which he is increasingly adopting as he gets older. This is to be greatly regretted. The point I was making was that we did prevent violent and sadistic material from coming in at that time and we ensured that the material was properly classified. More importantly, I remind Senator Harradine that the Joint Select Committee on Video Material was set up by consensus and agreement of this Parliament to see whether we could get a community consensus on all the matters he has been discussing.

Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.

Senator MASON —Just before the suspension of the sitting for dinner I raised briefly, and will continue to debate only briefly, a matter raised by Senator Harradine because I think it is important that these matters, especially when they lie sometime in the past, be represented as accurately as possible in any kind of debate. I sympathise considerably with the view that Senator Harradine put. I understand his concern and I am concerned at the extent to which video tapes, to which many people take exception, are current in all parts of Australia.

I remember when we discussed this matter that several points arose. One point was in relation to Senator Harradine's comments on the part of the Australian Democrats in possibly disallowing the regulatory apparatus in this area. I point out that the Democrats did get from the Government two very important concessions. One was that classification, which is virtually censorship of this material, should not be voluntary for the industry but mandatory-in other words, necessary. The other was that material that was violent and sadistic-in other words, that had a sexual association combined with violence-under the Customs regulations would not be permitted into the country. We regarded those as two very important concessions from the Government.

The other point that needs filling in is that if, indeed, those regulations had been disallowed they would have left a completely inadequate apparatus behind which would not have solved the problem. Just to go a little further, I think Senator Harradine will recall, as will other honourable senators, that by consensus the Senate formed a select committee, which eventually became a joint committee, which was to--

Senator Harradine —No, it didn't.

Senator MASON —I think the whole point of the operation has been to try to see whether some sort of community consensus could be arrived at in this matter. That Committee hopefully will report and when it does I suggest that we can then take that matter further, but I do not think this debate should allow the conclusion to be left that there are members of the Committee of the Whole, especially Democrats, who tolerate the situation and who have somehow contributed, as Senator Harradine said, to the widespread purveying of video tapes on incest and matters of that kind.