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Wednesday, 9 March 1977
Page: 16

Mr CADMAN (MITCHELL, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Has the attention of the Attorney-General been referred to recent reports that undesirable pornographic literature using children has been on sale in shops in Sydney and Melbourne? Has this literature been imported from overseas? Has approval been given for the importation of the literature? What steps does the Attorney-General propose to take in relation to the matter?

Mr ELLICOTT - Reports have appeared in the newspapers and on television with regard to literature which was supposed to have been on sale under the counter in I think New South Wales and Victoria. I have seen some literature. I do not know whether it is identical with the literature on sale, but if it is identical it is literature which bears the mark of having been produced overseas. It is literature which represents children in various sexual poses. Honourable members will be aware that the basic policy of both the Government and the Opposition is that adults should be entitled to hear and see what they wish. In the past films have been brought into this country pursuant to regulation 4a of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations and they are classified by the Film Censorship Board. Literature that is presented comes to officers of my Department. If it is indecent or obscene they will prohibit it under regulation 4A.

I have caused inquiries to be made of officers of my Department and they have told me that, as far as they could ascertain, literature of this character would be prohibited. From time to time articles of this description come before them and they prohibit them. If such items are on sale in Sydney or Melbourne and if they come from overseas, according to my inquiries they have come in illegally. It is very difficult to police the import of articles of this character. They may come in in somebody's brief case or in a bag as well as in commercial quantities. If they come in they can then be used as the basis for the production of literature for disposal. However in New South Wales and Victoria, and perhaps in other States, I understand all literature, even literature of this character, is available but if it is of this particular character it will be marked for direct sale and I gather that it has to be put under the counter.

Having looked at the literature which is alleged to be of the same character I have certainly formed the view that it is literature that ought not to be available anywhere in Australia because it exploits young children. If any honourable member thinks I am harsh in that regard, I invite him to look at some of the literature. I have some of it in my office. Following representations from New South Wales, I propose to call a meeting of ministers dealing with censorship, to see what steps can be taken to impose some limit on this type of material in the States and Territories so that material that would be prohibited at the point of entry would also be prohibited from sale in shops around the country, whether they be sex shops, newsagents or any other kind of shop. I hope that meeting will take place at an early date after a meeting of officers has been held.

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