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Tuesday, 19 August 1980
Page: 451

Mr Barry Jones (LALOR, VICTORIA) asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 21 May 1980:

(1)   Does regulation 13 of the Customs (Cinematograph Films) Regulations provide, inter alia, that a film shall not be registered if in the opinion of the Board the film is likely to be offensive to the people of a friendly nation.

(2)   How is it part of the customs power for the Commonwealth Film Censorship Board to estimate the likelihood of an adverse reaction in another country to a film sought to be imported to and exhibited in Australia.

(3)   Has his attention been drawn to reports in the Melbourne Sun of 17 May 1980 (page 1) and other papers that Lady Duckmanton, the Chief Censor had stated that, with respect to Anthony Thomas' film Death of a Princess, the Film Censorship Board had to decide whether it was likely to be offensive to people of a friendly nation.

(4)   What methods are adopted by the Board to determine whether programs to be screened in Australia would, if shown here, be offensive to people of a friendly nation.

(5)   In such cases, does the Board receive advice; if so (a) from whom and (b) in particular, does it consult the Department of Foreign Affairs or does it exercise its own discretion independently of the Department.

(6)   Did the Board consult the Department of Foreign Affairs in the case of Death of a Princess.

Mr Viner -The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1)   Yes.

(2)   The Commonwealth Film Censorship Board is established and operates under the provisions of the Customs (Cinematograph Films) Regulations which have been made under section SO of the Customs Act 1901, which is a valid exercise of the power of the Parliament under section SI (i) of the Constitution to make laws with respect to trade and commerce with other countries.

(3)   Yes.

(4)   The Board screens all films imported into Australia and the members of the Board, by a majority decision, decide whether the film should be registered for exhibition in the light of prevailing community standards and having regard to the provisions of regulation 13 of the Customs (Cinematograph Films) Regulations. It is not the task of the Board to censor ideas.

(5)   The Board is an independent statutory body and is free to make such enquiries and seek such advice as it considers necessary to assist it in reaching decisions. The Board did have the benefit of views publicly expressed by the Government on the film Death of a Princess.

(6)   No.

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