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Wednesday, 28 October 1970

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice:

(1)   Has the Army established a secret mock-up Vietnamese village in a sub-tropical rain forest south of Bulli Pass comprising houses built of thatched palm leaves, a network of tunnels and a maze of trip wires extending over a wide area of bush land.

(2)   In whom is ownership and control of the land vested.

(3)   Has authority for use of the land been granted.

(4)   Does the Military activity conducted in this area constituted a hazard to children and bushwalkers.

(5)   What accidents have occurred in the area to either military personnel or civilians.

(6)   Is this area still being used for training purposes; if so, what efforts are being made to protect plant and animal life.

Mr Peacock (KOOYONG, VICTORIA) (Minister Assisting the Prime Minister) - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   The mock-up village established by the Army in the Bulli training area in 1968 was never secret. The village comprised houses, concealed holes and tunnels but trip wires were only laid when the village was in use. The buildings have now been removed and the tunnels and holes filled because the village is no longer required for training purposes.

(2)   The land is owned by the Bellambi Coal Co. Ltd, and is part of the Sydney water supply catchment area with water rights consequently controlled by the Metropolitan Sewerage and Drainage Board.

(3)   Authority to use the land has been granted by the Bellambi Coal Co. Ltd, and the Metropolitan Water and Sewerage Drainage Board.

(4)   No.

(5)   There have been no known accidents involving civilians. Military personnel have had some training accidents but not as a result of the use of the village.

(6)   The general area is still being used for training by the Infantry Centre but no live firing takes place. Every effort is made to conserve the natural state of the area - the animals are untouched, there is no destruction of timber or undergrowth and all rubbish is removed for disposal at Ingleburn Camp. In addition Rangers patrol the area and representatives of the Bellambi Coal Co. Ltd, carry out annual inspections to ensure the area is not damaged.

Censorship (Question No. 1819)

Mr Whitlam asked the Minister for

Customs and Excise, upon notice:

(1)   Which Ministers attended the conference on censorship in Sydney in September.

(2)   What requests or suggestions were made at the conference for legislative or administrative action by (a) the Commonwealth, (b) the Territories and (c) the States.

(3)   In what respects has uniform legislation in the Territories (a) already been and (b) yet to be brought into operation.

Mr Chipp - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   At a conference in Sydney on 18 September State Ministers responsible for matters of censorship met under the chairmanship of the Minister for Customs and Excise.

The State Ministers attending were:

Chief Secretary, New South Wales

Chief Secretary, Victoria

Minister for Justice and Attorney-General, Queensland

Attorney-General, South Australia

Chief Secretary, Western Australia

Chief Secretary, Tasmania.

The Minister for the Interior was represented by an officer of the Department of the Interior.

(2)   After the conference a Press Statement, agreed by all Ministers present, was issued. That Press Statement is reproduced below:

Commonwealth and State Ministers responsible for censorship matters have agreed to the principle of introducing an 'R' certificate for theatrical films.

The Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr D. L. Chipp, M.P.) said this in Sydney today (18 September). He was speaking after a meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers held in Sydney to discuss censorship matters.

He said: "The State Ministers have agreed to recommend to their Governments that existing legislation be amended so that an 'R' certificate for theatrical films may be legally enforced. "The effect of the legislation will be that children between the ages of 6 and 18 will not be admitted to theatres at which 'R' certificate films will be exhibited. "The 'R' certificate will be applied by the Chief Film Censor to films which it is considered are suitable only for adults. "There will be two other classifications - Suitable for General Exhibition (G) and 'Not Recommended for Children' (NRC): these classifications will be advisory."

Mr Chippsaid that the Ministers agreed that the introduction of a legally enforceable R' certificate would remove an anomaly from Australian film censorship. Film censorship need no longer be too inhibited by the lack of control of children's attendance at theatres.

The Minister said: " Today's meeting, the first of its kind since 1968, has also agreed to changes in the regulations governing film censorship. The changes include the establishment of an appeal board or boards of suitably qualified persons to replace the existing single Appeal Censor and a system to allow Deputy Censors under the control of a member of the Film Censorship Board to examine films and to recommend release of 'G' type films and refer other films to the board. "There will also bc provision for recourse to the courts to determine whether or not as a fact a film is obscene, as is now possible with books."

The meeting examined the effect of local production of books which have been prohibited by the Minister for Customs and Excise and discussed specifically the effects of the statement by the South Australian Attorney-General on the principles which will guide him in deciding whether or not to authorise a prosecution.

Mr Chippsaid: " It has been agreed that the work of the National Literature Board of Review and the operation of the Uniform Book Censorship Agreement should continue as before. " However if a local edition of a prohibited book is allowed to be distributed in any State, the responsible Minister in that State will consider whether it is appropriate to take measures to confine the distribution of the book as far as possible in that State."

(3)   When all State Governments have agreed to the introduction of legislation to provide for a legally-enforceable 'R' certificate, legislation applicable in the Territories will need to be similarly amended.

The Customs (Cinematograph Films) Regulations, which it is proposed to amend to implement other changes in the censorship system referred to in the Press Statement, apply uniformly throughout Australia.

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