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Thursday, 25 February 1971

Senator KEEFFE (Queensland) - ] oppose the amendment moved by Senator McManus. 1 am rather surprised that the honourable senator should think that an amendment of this kind is needed in respect of a Bill of this nature. I was surprised also at some of the remarks made by Senator Hannan. As Senator McManus md. the amendment seeks to include in the Bill, in spirit if not legally, a statement on policy. By his amendment the honourable senator seeks to extend censorship laws. That is the basic purpose of the amendment and it is stated quite clearly in the last 3 or 4 lines of the motion. The amendment states: . . an obligation to show that it lias a sense of responsibility and a regard for the good name of the university . . .

Perhaps if the wording had stopped al that point there would not have been a great deal of harm in it, but the amendment continues: which would be manifested for example in a rejection of crude pornography as a feature of official student journalism.

I have seen the student paper to which the honourable senator has referred and in which he alleges that crude pornography appears. In my view the publication provides a pretty good send up of people. It bucks the Establishment, ft shows people like Senator McManus and Senator Hannan that they have left behind their youth and their feeling for humanity. They are not prepared to face up to present day life or the problems of young people today. This is basically why the amendment has been moved.

In this day and age we should not be extending censorship laws, particularly in a manner like this, but rather we should be relaxing them. It is my view that the cen sorship laws should be abolished. J know that probably a majority of people in the community at this point of time would say that the censorship laws ought to be gradually relaxed, but the modern trend throughout the world is to abolish censorship laws. In those countries where censorship has been abolished the local people are no more corrupt that we are in this community. God only knows, our own Australian community needs to be looked at seriously because of the great decline in its moral fibre, yet we live in a rigidly censored society. The people who may be corrupted by the absence of censorship in those countries where it has been abolished are those perverts in society who will travel thousands of miles to look at pornographic literature. If anybody in Australia wants to obtain it they can do so because there are plenty of places where it can be obtained. This is a matter that comes down lo a question of human beings, and in considering this amendment we must have regard lo who would do the defining. For instance- if an amendment of this nature were incorporated who would decide whether a student newspaper had a proper content. I should hate to think that the responsibility for this would be placed on people like Senator McManus or Senator Hannan because I suspect that they would find something obscene in the 'Canberra Times'.

We have heard reference to students who are not genuine. To some extent I agree with Senator Hannan because it is a well known fact that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation has students placed in various campuses who are paid to spy on their fellow students. The student who travelled from Brisbane lo Melbourne, as was mentioned by Senator Hannan, might have been in this category. I am not aware of any other students attending university in any State in Australia who have not a genuine desire to attain a higher education. Perhaps some of these kids should not be at university because they have not the ability to cope with their studies, but if they do become involved in the publication of a newspaper of the type that has received so much criticism, is it their fault? This is probably their way of rebelling against society and showing that there is something wrong with us. It is not that there is something wrong with the kids who are producing this kind of publication; there is something wrong with the sort of society that forces them into this kind of rebellion, a society that sends kids who have not a vole to Vietnam to bc killed.

This is where we should be taking a critical look at ourselves. We should not be exercising our power in this place to try to punish these kids, nor should it be happening in any other parliament. If someone is aggrieved there are laws already in existence to deal with the situation. Heaven only knows, the censorship laws are so primitive and are framed in such a way that one could be gaoled tor possessing a well known comic or cookery book. If there is a need to act in respect of the publication referred to by honourable senators opposite, action can be taken under the law which exists already. 1 suggest that this amendment was not conceived for a genuine purpose and was not moved for a genuine purpose; it was moved merely to see how much publicity could be obtained for the people associated with it. lt is not genuine and. so far as I am concerned, it should never have been moved in this chamber.

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