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Tuesday, 6 September 1960

Mr Whitlam m asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -

What steps (a) have been taken, or (b) does he propose to take, to persuade the States to accept the Commonwealth's censorship rulings on imported books, films and recordings?

Mr Osborne (EVANS, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Air) - The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answer to the honorable member's question: -

An approach has already been made to each of the State Premiers seeking their preliminary views on the question of uniformity of literature censorship and the desirability of a joint examination of the problem by the States and the Commonwealth. The Premiers have not as yet made known their views on these matters.

In addition to its Commonwealth function of determining whether imported films shall be admitted into Australia either wholly or after elimininations the Commonwealth Film Censorship Board, under agreements reached with the various State governments, classifies such films under the following headings: -

(a)   Suitable for general exhibition (" G ");

(b)   Not suitable for children ("A");

(c)   Subject to special conditions, e.g., for adults only (" AO ").

The various States have the power to impose their own censorship requirements. However, under the arrangement mentioned, certain States have legislation for the acceptance of classifications by the Film Censorship Board and in practice they are accepted by all States.

So far as recordings are concerned, Commonwealth powers extend only to imported articles which, if indecent or obscene, are treated as prohibited imports. Sales of indecent or obscene recordings within Australia are a matter for the State governments.

No problems have arisen in connexion with any State-Commonwealth variances which might or might not exist in dealing with recordings and no steps have been taken to have the States accept Commonwealth rulings on these articles nor are any such steps contemplated.

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