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Tuesday, 13 June 1989
Page: 3937

(Question No. 989)

Senator Knowles asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 24 May 1989:

(1) Can the Attorney-General supply the full reasons why the Commonwealth Chief Censor determined on an `R' rating for the film THE ACCUSED, as was gazetted on 11 January 1989.

(2) What reasons were advanced by the Films Board of Review in reclassifying this film to an `M' rating, as was gazetted on 8 February 1989.

Senator Tate —The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The Chief Censor has supplied the following extract from the report of the Film Censorship Board on THE ACCUSED:

The Board was unanimous in its opinion that, whilst contextually justified, the re-creation of a brutal rape which reinforces the terror of the victim and the callousness with which she was treated by the males in the room, was sufficiently detailed and impactful to warrant a Restricted Classification.

(2) The Chairman of the Films Board of Review has supplied the following extract from the minutes of its meeting held on 15 December 1988 at which the Review Board considered an application for review of the decision of the Film Censorship Board to classify THE ACCUSED `For Restricted Exhibition'.

The Board of Review was at first equally divided on the merits of the appeal. Three members felt that the scene in question-presented as the recollections of a witness during a trial-was contextually justified; the others agreed with the Censorship Board that the scene went beyond the limits for an `M' rating. All members agreed, however, that the film contained a powerful message, and made a socially significant statement about rape and the degree of complicity of those who might witness crimes of sexual violence. The Board of Review, after prolonged discussion and a careful scrutiny of the guidelines for film classification, agreed by majority that an `M' classification was appropriate. The Board of Review insisted, however, that such a classification should be accompanied by a warning about the subject matter of the film. Accordingly, the Board of Review directed that THE ACCUSED be classified `M' (For Mature Audiences), and that publicity for the film be required to include the following statement: ``CENSORSHIP WARNING: THIS FILM CONTAINS SCENES OF GRAPHIC SEXUAL VIOLENCE''.