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Thursday, 25 May 1989
Page: 2734


Senator ZAKHAROV(5.35) —I do not want to take much of the time of the Senate, but I cannot let pass some of the things that have just been said-such as that women no longer want to open their doors in the middle of the day. Maybe they do not want to open them to Senator Walters, but I do not have any problems with people opening their doors when I am doorknocking. We had a by-election in Victoria not long ago, so I have been doing so recently. I was campaigning during the middle of the day and I had no problems with people not opening the door.

The figures that Senator Walters quoted are obviously those for reported rapes. Anybody who knows anything about changes in the law and in community attitudes will know that, 20 years ago and more, many rapes went unreported because of the way victims were treated by the police and other people. It was often said that the woman brought it on herself because of the clothes she wore, because she went out at night, et cetera. They are all bygone attitudes in most places and, therefore, the rate of reported rape is very much higher. The Australian Institute of Criminology will tell us that there is no hard evidence that the actual incidence of rape has risen. This is typical of the sort of arguments we get on these matters from Senator Walters.

Senator Walters claimed that every women's organisation in Australia bar one supported her point of view. That is absolute nonsense. We all know the sort of organisations that would have been contacted by the Liberal Party when raising that matter of public importance some months ago. They were the predictable organisations, such as the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association and Women Who Want to be Women-who I understand have a new name, Endeavour something; it has a membership of about 30 people. Those were the sorts of organisations contacted. Naturally the Liberal Party did not want to canvass some of the other organisations, but it is nonsense to say that all women's organisations bar one support her point of view.

They are the two main matters raised by Senator Walters to which I wanted to reply. Most of her points were not worth referring to, anyway. I wonder about the question of mild, non-violent fetishes. That is undefined and I have not had the opportunity to check out what is meant by that change in the guidelines. It could have a very wide range of interpretations. I do not think it has been tested yet and it is not a particularly relevant point to raise.

In general, I support everything that Senator Jenkins has said. For the sake of my Victorian colleagues I wish to refer to the Age article. Like Senator Jenkins, when I read the article this morning I was appalled at the ignorance displayed in it. I spent some time on the telephone talking to the secretariat of the social development committee in Melbourne, and also to the chair of that committee. Subsequently, I was able to get a copy of part of that report faxed up to me. In fact, the Age article is extremely misleading. The headlines do not match anything in the report. Much of what is in the Age report has been taken totally out of context, obviously for reasons of sensationalism. As a usual supporter of the Age, I am extremely disappointed in the way that that story was handled.

The report contains something like 26 recommendations. Not one of them refers at all to X-rated videos. The main reference in the report to X-rated videos and so on, which was the last item in the Age report, concerns a provision in the Victorian law which is interpreted as requiring the police physically to send any video which it seizes because it is believed to have been hired in contravention of Victorian law to the Chief Censor for certification of classification. Clearly, that obstructs the operation of the law because that could take up to six weeks and the same Victorian law requires charges to be laid after a period of 14 days.

I have had pointed out to me the relevant sections of that report which in any way back up the sort of claims that appear to be made in the Age about X-rated videos. The clear misunderstanding that is portrayed there, and was portrayed on Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio this morning-and, to the credit of Pru Goward, was later corrected-is about the confusion which is compounded very often by those in the Opposition about what X-rated videos really are.