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Wednesday, 31 May 1972
Page: 2348

Senator HANNAN (Victoria) - [ move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

This Bill defines the 'Little Red Schoolbook' and provides a substantial financial penalty or imprisonment or both for its sale, loan or distribution in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. There may be some constitutional question in relation to the Northern Territory but none so far as the Australian Capital Territory is concerned. I thank the Minister for Air (Senator DrakeBrockman) for his courtesy in making the time available to introduce this Bill which I regard as being of some significance.

Senator Murphy - You mean the Senate.

Senator HANNAN - And I thank the Opposition too. I do not discriminate in this matter. This matter is a matter of some significance.

Senator Murphy - I hope you are not assuming from the fact that the Opposition granted you the privilege of having free speech that it is in any way an endorsement or otherwise of what you are proposing.

Senator HANNAN - No not at all. A simple reading of the 'Little Red Schoolbook' will explain the motivation for this Bill. I do not intend to provide any titillation for the chamber by reading substantial extracts from it. I am satisfied, from my perusal, that the book is obscene having regard to the people or the readership for whom it is intended. I also regard it as subversive of all constituted authority - the authority of parents, the home and the school.

I realise that my action will be stigmatised as Torquemada of old burning the books. I know that the infallible leader writers are bound to take affront. Leader writers are a special race of men. They are all wise, they are infallible, they are incredibly upright and just, they are far-seeing beyond the normal human being and they pontificate in a manner which makes us glad that we do not have to move in the stratosphere alongside them. Despite all this I believe that this Bill is in the best interest of our community. I want to make it abundantly clear at this stage that this Bill is not intended as an attack on the integrity of the Minister for Customs and Excise, Mr Chipp. I understand his point of view. I disagree with it. He said that the book is rubbish, that his legal powers to ban it are inadequate and that the less publicity it receives the better. I simply state that as a Liberal parliamentarian I am disagreeing with his judgment. I am disagreeing with his decision. In fact, I am simply exercising the freedom which is given to Liberal Party members of Parliament - a freedom which was so favourably commented upon by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) last Monday at the meeting of the Federal Libera) Party Council.

I can recall a most distinguished Australian Prime Minister - perhaps the most distinguished Australian Prime Minister of all time - beginning many of his speeches with the words 'I am a simple Presbyterian'. I am not a Presbyterian, simple or otherwise, but I quote with wholehearted approval the editorial of 'Australian Presbyterian Life' of 6th May last. It says in part:

This has gone too Far

Surely the time has come for the Christian Church to stand up and say it has had enough. There have been many things in our society over the past few years which have breached not only Christian standards of conduct but ordinary canons of decency. But the appearence of 'The Link Red Schoolbook', with the implication that it is to be read by school children, should be an occasion when the Church says that things have gone too far and it calls on all its members to insist, through the ways open to them as citizens, that this sort of thing has got to stop.

It should be said at the start that 'The Little Red Schoolbook' is not really phornographic in the sense that it treates obscenity in a manner calculated to deprave - certainly not adults.

I emphasise that point because this book is aimed at children. The quotation continues:

But in the section to which principal objection will be taken, it deals with sex in terms and from a standpoint which is crude, objectionable and frankly disgusting. It is practically impossible to give those who will not read the book a fair indication of its contents without being offensive. An indication of the writers' attitude can be gained from an early sentence on one page which discusses the reasons why people indulge in sexual intercourse. One reason, 'The Little Red Schoolbook' says, is 'They do it because people need sexual satisfaction and masturbation is no longer considered to be enough'.

The whole of this section is written in terms which are down at the level of the gutter. The sexual organs are described in what are known as the 4-letter words. Sexual intercourse itself is given a name with which every reader of the writing on lavatory walls is familiar. These words are then put together in the crudest way to describe (for school children) what happens in intercourse. A succeeding paragraph goes on to tell how 'a boy and a girl can give one another more pleasure', and adds. 'They should talk about it and tell each other what they really enjoy*.

On 15th May last the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Anthony, expressed his view on 'The Little Red Schoolbook'. He said: 1 cannot give it one vestige of support. Its sub versive nature makes it dangerous to our society. Publications of this type should not appear to be condoned by governments in Australia and I am pleased to see a number of State governments have taken action against it. The book basically aims at undermining authority at all levels. It does this under the guise of an enlightened liberalism that defends free and creative thought and individual development. In reality it denigrates the family unit, the church, our moral codes, our schooling system, law and order and government It belittles what is necessary for an orderly society and what is good and wholesome in it. I consider it a handbook for juvenile revolution and anarchy.

That statement appeared in the Melbourne Sun' of 15th May last. On 27th May the Deputy Prime Minister returned to the attack, as reported in the Melbourne 'Sun' of that date, and I quote in part:

The Country Party Leader said he had been surprised by the volume of letters he had received since his recent comments criticising 'The Little Red Schoolbook'. The letters had expressed real fears about trends in Australian society, not just on this book but on what people see as a sustained attack on the foundations of our society, its standards and its laws. This is not a phoney issue manufactured by the Government as some would suggest, but something about which many people are deeply concerned.

As honourable senators are well aware, conscience votes are recorded by members of some political parties on certain matters which are regarded as issues of conscience - for example, hanging, divorce, marriage - and rightly so. We go to great pains, and again rightly so, to provide conscience escape clauses for genuine conscientious objectors under the National Service Act. There seems much selective indignation among some people. There are some who become apoplectic with moral indignation over the National Service Act, an Act designed to preserve the defence and security of the nation, but they happily ignore - they even praise and support - glitter type literature designed to corrupt school children. As both Socrates, who was no right wing reactionary, as honourable senators would well know, and Sir Henry Bolte have pointed out, pollution of the mind is more serious than pollution of the body.

In my view there can be no argument but that this book is an incitement or encouragement to school children to hold all authority in contempt, and to indulge in sexual intercourse and unrestricted promiscuity. This is beyond challenge and how any religious leader could actually praise this type of garbage completely escapes me. If this book succeeds in its purpose it must have a number of evil material results, apart from the moral results. It will increase the incidence of early unwanted pregnancies and their possible abortions. Last week the Melbourne Herald' drew attention to the fact that many school children were having babies and that many of the mothers were as young as 13 years old.

Senator McLaren - That was before 'The Little Red Schoolbook' was printed.

Senator HANNAN - Do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that the book is the root of all evil. 1 am saying that it is an evil that ought to be suppressed. If the book's philosophy is followed, it must result in an increase in venereal disease among the very young. Venereal disease is making an alarming comeback as a major health hazard in our community, lt is doing this all over the Western world. As Clifford Roberts pointed out, during World War I, 100,000 units of penicillin were sufficient to deal with or to cure the average dose of gonorrhoea, but now it takes between 2i and 3 million units. A new strain of venereal disease is developing. It has shown increased resistance to penicillin, lt has been found necessary nowadays whenever penicillin is given to combine it with another drug probenecid, which slows down the rate of penicillin excretion from the body, maintaining a curative action at higher levels and for far longer periods. Is this the type of disease with which we should encourage our children to experiment? In addition there is also the crime of carnal knowledge where a male person, boy or adult, has sexual intercourse with a female below the age of consent. In most States the age of consent is 16 years. There is no doubt in my mind that this book is an incitement to committing the crime of carnal knowledge. 1 find it incomprehensible that a book bounty should be paid on 'The Little Red Schoolbook', but one has in fact been paid. Bounty is normally the equivalent of 25 per cent of the cost of production. In a lengthy answer to a question by Senator Little, the Minister for Customs and Excise, Mr Chipp, said inter alia:

Payment of bounty is in no way related to the merit of the book. Bounty has been paid on the production of every type of book, including cheap, badly written detective stories and trashy romances; merit, literary or otherwise, is simply not relevant.

However, the definition of 'Book' in section 3 of the Book Bounty Act 1970 provides that book means a publication of a literary or educational character that is in book form. It would seem, therefore, as no-one could claim that 'The Little Red Schoolbook' is of a literary or educational character; that bounty has been improperly paid upon it. I shall conclude by quoting an extract from the 'Advocate' of 18th May. T must ask honourable senators to bear with me as I read it since 1 want to give the precise terms. It reads:

The anti-censorship drive has produced great changes in community standards in the past decade, as may be seen from the type of literature for sale in our bookshops, and the plays and films advertised. Is it possible to believe that this change is unconnected with the alarming rise in crimes of sex and violence among the young, and the increased prevalence of venereal disease?

The anti-censors are fond of saying that books and plays do not really corrupt, and that to interfere with private choice in their regard is a gross infringement of citizen freedom.

But, as Milton said long ago, books arc not dead things, but can sprout like the dragons' teeth in the Greek fable. If good books can influence human beings in favour of good living and high causes - like the liberation of the oppressed or inter-racial justice- the converse logically applies, that bad books can stimulate the mind and imagination in ways that are socially baleful.

The effect of these on individuals varies with age, character and circumstances, but there is impressive evidence that scenes of sadism, lurid sex and crime in books and plays contribute to delinquent behaviour as well as unhealthy personal attitudes.

Gallup Polls have shown that the community wants its standards upheld against the advocates of porn and moral subversion, whose propaganda undermines the roots of ordered freedom by the pollution of the people, and those in power would do well to give more heed to real public opinion than to mass media writers who do not reflect it. 1 hope that the proscription of this piece of gutter literature in the Australian Capital Territory will encourage the relevant State authorities to take similar action. As I said earlier, this Bill is no attack on the integrity of the Minister for Customs and Excise; it is simply an exercise in that democratic freedom which Liberal parliamentarians enjoy. There is a substantial body of Liberal opinion strongly opposed to the entry of the type of rubbish into our school rooms. I conclude by expressing my thanks to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition for their courtesy in granting me leave to bring this matter forward without having to go through the usual delays. I commend the Bill to the Senate.

Debate (on motion by Senator DrakeBrockman) adjourned.

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