Australian magazines could be forced to carry disclaimers on any images that have been airbrushed after the government unveiled a new strategy to tackle body image and eating disorders.
Under a new code of conduct for the fashion industry,
magazines must agree to refrain from heavy retouching of body parts, including the common practices of lengthening legs, removing freckles and trimming waistlines. Where photographs have been altered, the images must carry a disclaimer.
for agreeing to the guidelines, publications will be awarded with a body image tick , similar to the Heart Foundation's healthy food symbol.
Under the same plan, the government wants designers, advertising companies and magazines to refrain
from using size-zero female models and excessively muscular male models in photoshoots or fashion shows.
While the code is voluntary, it is one of most strident moves by any country to tackle the problem of eating disorders, which 'experts' claim
are triggered by unrealistic images of beauty found in film, fashion and advertising.
Kate Ellis, the Australian youth minister, admitted that the principles were small steps but said that she hoped they would help to stop the glamorisation
of unhealthily thin women: Body image is an issue that we must take seriously because it is affecting the health and happiness of substantial sections of our community, she spouted.
Nutters are 'outraged' by the Classification Review Board's decision to give the remake of the 1984 film The Karate Kid a PG rating.
The remake stars Jackie Chan as an updated version of the original's Mr Miyagi character, but opponents
said the movie should not be seen by youngsters because it featured an adult instructor urging children to be violent to other children.
The Australian Council on Children and the Media is now advising parents against taking children under 12 to
see it. The council's vice president, Elizabeth Handsley, warned parents their children would not be seeing an update of the original: This film is much stronger than the original version that parents might remember seeing 25 years ago, Professor
Handsley said: It should have been classified M - not recommended for those under 15 years.
A child psychologist, Glenn Cupit, said that while the hero of the new film was very young looking the violence in the film was quite brutal and
adult in type. He said there was also the possibly that young viewers could be inspired to copy such violence because it did not show the consequences of such behaviour: The violence inflicted does not show real-life outcomes of serious kicking and
punching. A young audience may not appreciate what will surely be the result if they copy that violence.
Three New South Wales adult shops were raided by state police last week as part of a continuing crack down on adult entertainment by the government. So far this year, over a dozen adult retail, wholesale and production outlets around the country have
been raided and had their stock confiscated, under direction from the federal Attorney General's department.
There are at least another dozen in the pipeline. Last month a Sydney adult shop owner became the first person to be sent to jail in
modern times for a censorship offence.
Last month also saw Victoria's largest producer of X18+ material, Abby Winters.com, prosecuted for making X18+ films. They are currently relocating to a more tolerant European country.
Party President, Fiona Patten, said the raids were an outrageous undermining of the federal government's own Classification Act. Officers from the Attorney General's department are, on the one hand, classifying X18+ films for all Australians to sell
and possess and then turning around and dobbing in adult shops, websites and producers in the states who deal in this product , she said.
The federal government should be supporting the spirit and principles of its own legislation rather
than the outdated and highly politicised laws of other jurisdictions.
She said that there was evidence to support the notion that this was in part, a revenge attack, emanating out of the Federal Attorney General's office, following her party's
much publicised opposition to the proposed internet filter and the sneaky back door inclusion of pornography on traveller's Incoming Passenger Cards.
Patten said that despite the activities of the Federal Attorney General's office, in
concert with local police forces, the Australian Sex Party would not back down on its campaign against the alarming escalation of a conservative moral agenda from both major parties .
The Australian government is set to intensify its war against Internet freedom by forcing web users to install state-approved anti-virus software. If they fail to do so, they will be denied an Internet connection, or if their computer is later infected,
the user's connection will be terminated.
A 260-page report released by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications outlines a plan to mandate Internet users to install government-approved software before their Internet
connection can be activated.
This precedent, of having to conform to government mandates simply to get online, opens the door to later requiring government permission to use the Internet at all, as well as a Chinese-style ID verification system
which will prevent undesirables from using the web.
It also makes it easier for the government to use the law to subsequently demand that a mandatory Internet filter also be installed as part of the software package that blocks websites
deemed offensive to the authorities.
At the start of this year, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, whose Labor Party won a landslide election in 2007, was still regarded as the poster child for a new Australia. Like a superman, he flew around his nation — and the world — tirelessly
working to help Australia avert the global financial crisis that had tainted other major economies. He wooed foreign investment in his homeland's natural resources and he bonded on the world stage with his political soulmate, Barack Obama, in an effort
to combat climate change. In due course, the center-left leader was rewarded with the highest popularity figures in Australian history, scoring an approval rating of 74% in a March 2009 poll. Was there anything K-Rudd couldn't do? Yes, it turns out —
keeping his own party loyal when the tide turned.
On June 24, Rudd's own party unceremoniously dumped him for his deputy Julia Gillard, turning the former political wunderkind into Australia's shortest-serving Prime Minister in almost four
decades. Labor's change of heart, though, had less to do with Australia's shifting priorities than a feeling that Rudd had neglected to safeguard the ideals he so strongly advocated during his campaign and at the start of his term. He came to be seen a
flip-flopper on key issues like the environment. In other areas, his steadfastness was increasingly perceived as mule-headedness. Loyalty to his inner circle, meanwhile, began to look disturbingly like a failure to consult with other party elders.
The generational change that saw Kevin Rudd swept to power in 2007 brought with it great expectations from a local technology sector which had struggled for a decade to convince John Howard that the industry deserved a bigger priority profile
in national affairs.
So what happens now?
Broadly, 2007 was genuine generational change, and so the direction and substance of Labor ICT's engagement will be fairly constant regardless of the Caucus outcome. (It is actually hard to see a
return the Luddite-as-PM model, although Tony Abbott wants to make a fist of it)
I would argue that the local tech sector will fair better under Julia Gillard, if only because she has deeper roots and greater personal interest in issues of
While there would likely be a modest shake-up of frontbench (modest, it being an election year and all), Stephen Conroy will remain in his current position up to and well beyond the election. The portfolio is too complex and
at a particularly critical stage of development to risk a change.
Finally, the internet filtering plan in its current form will be history. That alone should put a smile of the face of many tens of thousands of cranky and disaffected IT workers
The opposition leader,
Tony Abbott, appeared in a broadcast to church members recently being quizzed by church leaders.
I wanna stress that I am a Christian in politics, not a Christian politician and I am not asking
Christians to vote for me because I am of like mind. Faith has influenced my life but it does not and I believe, should not, shape my politics.
He addressed the 'concern' of the
audience about the sexualisation of children.
Our current classification system is broken. It doesn't apply to much that it probably ought to apply to and it doesn't seem to apply community standards even
where it does apply.
Amnesty International has criticised new laws aimed at reinstating the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) in the Northern Territory, claiming they fail to end discrimination introduced by the intervention.
Federal parliament has recently passed laws
that will reinstate the RDA next year while maintaining many of the intervention's controversial measures.
The legislation does this in two ways.
First, it quarantines the welfare payments of all vulnerable people in the territory,
regardless of race.
Second, it makes alcohol and pornography bans, as well as compulsory leases, more flexible and labels them special measures for the benefit of indigenous people.
Amnesty says Labor's changes don't fully re-instate
the RDA and do not reverse racially discriminatory actions already initiated under the intervention .
Despite advice from many organisations and individuals, the government has ignored the human rights violations sanctioned by these laws
and left racial discrimination legal in Australia, Amnesty's indigenous rights campaigner, Rodney Dillon, said in a statement.
The National Party of Australia has come out swinging against the Federal Government's mandatory internet filter policy, with a motion passed at the party's Federal conference on the weekend against the idea.
The motion stated that The Federal
Conference of the Nationals opposes any mandatory ISP-level internet censorship, and was passed after a deal of spirited debate.
The motion does not bind the Nationals' parliamentarians to vote against the ISP filtering policy when its
supporting legislation is introduced into parliament. However, conference motions do give members of parliament a strong indication as to what their party's grassroots membership would prefer in matters of policy.
This has been an issue of
major concern to a very large number of people who have contacted the Nationals in recent times, said a spokesperson for Nationals leader and Minister for Trade Warren Truss.
Nutter groups and Australian senators are launching a legal bid to reinstate the ban on the Italian film Salo .
Last month the Classification Board approved a DVD of the film, with explanations of its context. The move overturned a refusal
of classification in 1998. Salo has also been cleared by the Review Board after the Home Affairs Minister, Brendan O'Connor, asked for a rethink.
Now FamilyVoice Australia, the Australian Christian Lobby and the Not So Liberal senators Julian
McGauran and Guy Barnett have started a Federal Court appeal against the film's release. They will argue that approving the film's R18+ rating defied proper process and the law.
Our chief censors, by releasing this movie, have redefined
paedophilia and its acceptance, Senator McGauran claimed: The movie shows disturbingly strong depictions of torture, degradation, sexual violence, mutilation.
The Pier Paolo Pasolini film, made in 1975, tells of four Fascists in
Mussolini's Italy who kidnap teenagers and subject them to sexual and mental torture.
abbywinters.com is closing up shop in Australia and relocating to Amsterdam after a legal battle that saw the company plead guilty to two charges of producing and selling DVDs that weren't rated by the classification board.
known for producing adult content featuring amateur Australian girls.
In a post on the abbywinters.com message board, company CEO Garion Hall said that instead of fighting a costly, protracted legal battle to set new case law he decided to move to
a location where he could continue his operation without the threat of legal hassles.
We have always believed the law to be gray in this area, and the law had not been properly tested in this regard, Hall said. We could have spent many
thousands of dollars in attempting to define the laws but this would have involved additional time and resources that the company could ill afford, therefore, the company plead guilty to the two charges.
Our [defense attorney] made
submissions about the nature of our business, that we are reputable, well managed, have excellent systems and protocols in place, and have been operating openly since our inception 10 years ago. The magistrate accepted all the submissions made to her by
Hall said that the company stopped shooting in Australia as of May 28, after the resolution of the court case in which the company received a nominal fine. abbywinters.com plans to cease all Australian operations later this
Site members can rest comfortably knowing that much of the creative team will be moving with Hall to Amsterdam so the look and feel of the site will remain the same. Two of its shooters, two video editors, management team and back-office
staff will be making the move.
Hall reassures his site's members that even though it's unlikely he will be shooting many Australian girls in Amsterdam—a key element that made the site unique—the site's aesthetic of shooting amateur content remains
Following the recent decision by Australian Customs to ask travellers to declare any pornography they may have on their laptops and mobiles, the Australian Sex Party has produced a series of luggage stickers designed to protest the stupidity
of the decision.
Sex Party President Fiona Patten said that the stickers were made to point out not only the stupidity of the new question but the legislative sleight of hand that had underwritten it. The effect of these stickers will be to
take the fight against this draconian and invasive question on the incoming passenger forms, to the front line of Customs , she said. I am sending a suite of stickers to the Customs Minister today and asking him to personally examine the use of
the word 'pornography' in this issue. This word has no legal definition and Customs should not be using legally undefinable terms.
Ms Patten said that the federal government had made a fundamental error in interpreting and defining the nature
of material being evaluated by Customs as well as material caught up in the internet filter. Up until the last couple of years, the term Refused Classification (RC) was used as a benchmark to determine and define material that could not be sold in
Australia. Under the Classification Act (1995) the RC rating was created for the regulation of commercial media and entertainment content and had nothing to do with what an individual could access or own. It is still perfectly legal for
individuals to possess, view and purchase RC rated material.
However both Customs and Senator Conroy have tried to extend the definition of this rating to include personal possession - which it was never intended to cover.
Customs Service and Senator Conroy are trying to align their initiatives with the Classification Act but are now saying that if something is unsuitable to be sold, its also unsuitable to be possessed or viewed as well. As a result, Australia has two
competing definitions of Refused Classification. This is why you can be jailed for trying to bring material through Customs which is legal to possess, as soon as you walk out of the airport. It's also the reason that under Senator Conroy's filtering
proposals sites containing material that is legal to view and possess will be blacklisted and blocked. ISPs can be fined large amounts for hosting material that is legal to possess.
The New South Wales Greens are calling on the State Government to legalise the sale of X-rated material after police raids on two Sydney adult stores.
Greens MP Lee Rhiannon will move a motion in the upper house tomorrow aimed at clearing up the
legal contradiction that condones the use of X-rated material, but not its sale. She said:
It's completely illogical for something to be legal to own, but illegal to sell. Until recently, the ban on selling X-rated
non-violent erotica was not enforced. This led to it being made freely available in outlets such as newsagents and video stores. The outlets now being raided have a right to shake their heads in wonder.
and Opposition should respect public opinion, get behind the motion and properly regulate the industry. I struggle to think of a less productive use of NSW Police's valuable time than having 15 officers spend an entire day confiscating material that is
legal for the public to own.
I will be bringing on a motion for debate in NSW parliament tomorrow, calling on the government to clear up the legal uncertainties around X-rated non-violent erotica.
Sydney Police have become fixated on closing down Sydney's adult shops with increasingly intensive raids. Last week, two Kings Cross adult shops were raided and 90% of stock was seized. The shops have been closed by police and taped with crime scene
tape. All tills and safes were broken open and computers and shop records were all seized. Only lingerie was left. The raids took 15 police officers an entire day to carry out.
Australian Sex Party President, Fiona Patten, said that a Sydney adult
shop owner had been sentenced to jail last month for selling federally classified X rated films that had been judged by Commonwealth censors to be suitable for all Australians. The NSW police have spent millions of dollars this year pursuing adult
retailers where this money should have been spent on solving murders and dealing with assault and property crimes , she said: I challenge the Premier, the Police Commissioner and Independents in the parliament to deny that their religious beliefs
are contributing to this moral crusade . She estimated that the NSW Police had spent $2 million on raiding a dozen adult shops in the last 12 months.
She said last week's raids would have cost the taxpayer at least $100,000 and that the police
would now have to spend at least another $20,000 getting the films classified. Most of these films will probably end up being classified as X rated which means they are legal to bring into the country, legal to purchase, legal to possess and legal to
sell in the ACT and NT. Just not legal to sell in NSW.
Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) has apologised for any offence caused by its latest campaign asking people to "tell mum" about the Federal Government's proposed mandatory internet filter.
The It's Time to Tell Mum campaign launched by EFA last week encouraged people to talk to their mothers about the proposed filter and what the implications of it might be.
According to the website, over 40,000 people have told mum through the website's various Facebook, Skype, SMS and email sharing methods.
Over the weekend, a number of nutters raised concerns that the website and its Twitter
counterpart were promoting sexist stereotypes of mothers. Feminist blogger and mother Mary Gardiner told ZDNet Australia that she essentially agreed with the EFA's reasons for opposing the internet filter, but said that the message was lost by the Mum
campaign promoting stereotypes that mothers are only interested in technology for the sake of their children and parenting is and should always be women's business . She said the social media portion of the campaign also resorted to
The Classification Review Board (an appeal board) has cleared Pier Paolo Pasolini's transgressive 1975 film, Salo , for DVD release.
In a majority decision, a five-member panel of the Classification Review Board determined Salo can be classified R18+ with the consumer advice
Scenes of torture and degradation, sexual violence and nudity if the DVD includes up to three hours of additional material, as presented by the film's distributor, Shock.
The review board's majority opinion said the inclusion of additional
material on the DVD facilitates wider consideration of the context of the film which results in the impact being no more than high .
Not so Liberal Senator Julian McGauran, who previously called for the chief censor to resign over the
issue, derided the decision. He questioned whether Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor's request for a review after Salo was initially cleared was merely a political stunt . The Minister should now step in. If he's bona fide, he
should take the next step and step in, which he is able to do with the state attorneys general.
The Salo decision was overturned 12 years after it was banned. The cult art film has become the cause celebre of anti-censorship campaigners after
finally being deemed suitable for screening in 1993 before the Office of Film and Literature Classification re-instituted an Australia-wide ban in 1998.
The Review Board's minority was of the view that the film should be Refused Classification. It
is not known whether it was a 3-2 or 4-1 decision.
The board does advise though that consumers should consider whether this is a film they wish to see as it contains scenes of torture, degradation, cruelty and sexual violence that may offend
some sections of the community.
A christian lobby group has pushed for classification laws to be reviewed after the controversial Italian film Salo was given the green light to be distributed in Australia.
The decision to classify the DVD of the film Salo as
R18+ clearly breaches Australia's classification guidelines and is completely out of touch with community standards, the Australian Christian Lobby chief of staff, Lyle Shelton, said.
He called on the federal government to either rewrite the
guidelines or ensure the board takes a stricter approach in enforcing them.
Offsite: Salo ban discussed in Australian parliament
Australia's TV censor, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, has found that WIN Television breached their code by airing an episode of the program Dante's Cove.
ACMA were not impressed by suggestions that they were
targeting depictions of gay sex.
The ACMA is aware of reported comments from the Nine Network that the breach decision was a result of the depiction of homosexual activity, said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.
The ACMA rejects this offensive suggestion that its decision portrays a homophobic approach to application of the TV Classification Guidelines. Under the code the sexual orientation of characters is not considered a factor in
deciding whether or not sexual activity depicted in a scene is discreetly implied or discreetly simulated. The breach occurred due to the amount of detail in the scene, which included several depictions of detailed genital nudity, and its duration.
The ACMA is also disappointed that the Nine Network chose to comment publicly on the matter before the ACMA had completed its investigation.
The code states that sexual behaviour may be only discreetly
implied or discreetly simulated in programs that are classified at the top level of AV (Adult Violence). The ACMA found that the program, broadcast on the multi-channel GO!, contained depictions of implied oral sex and simulated sexual intercourse
which were not discreet, due to the amount of detail they contained. The ACMA concluded the program was incorrectly classified AV and therefore not suitable to be broadcast on commercial television.
decision to punish the Nine Network over airing racy same-sex love scenes a case of homophobic double-standard or confusion between two different classification systems?
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) announced on that
Nine's digital channel GO! had breached the code of practice by airing an episode of US soap Dante's Cove late last year. The finding sparked calls of homophobia, with Nine's classification chief Richard Lyle saying he was annoyed by the decision
given we'd shown exactly the same visuals implying rear entry intercourse between a male and a female .
The commercial TV censorship rules for AV states: Visual depiction of intimate sexual activity may contain detail but must only be
implied . According to ACMA's investigation report, the program contained a visual depiction of intimate sexual behaviour , amounting to a breach.
Dante's Cove was already available on DVD in Australia before GO! broadcast the offending
episode, which was classified with an MA rating by the Classification Board. Lyle explained to Crikey: They said the violence was accommodated by the MA rating and the sex scenes would have been accommodated by an M rating.
subsequently made the decision to classify Dante's Cove AV in order to account for the program's main advisory concern, violence. In its ruling, ACMA actually states Nine should not have relied on the Classification Board decision: While the reasoning
of the Classification Board may be one factor that licensees may consider when determining the proper classification of a program, ultimately the assessment will need to comply with the Television Classification Guidelines.
Following an appeal over the registration of the Australian Sex Party last August, The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has issued a Statement of Reasons for dismissing the appeal.
The AEC considered two issues raised by the appellant:
That the abbreviation to be used by the party on advertising and on voting forms (Sex Party) was obscene
Proper procedure was not applied in assessing the membership of the party
The AEC found that: sex in itself is a completely inoffensive word. It does not become offensive merely because it identifies this particular party as being concerned with public and political issues of a sexual nature . It also found that due
process in ascertaining that the party had 500 legitimate members, had been accorded.
Sex Party President, Fiona Patten, said that the initial application to register the party had drawn a wave of protest and complaints which had not stopped even
after the party had been registered.
Religious and morals groups are afraid of our agenda because for the first time in Australian politics, a political party has been registered which intends to expose religious hypocrisy and fraud for what it
is. Religious conservatives like Archbishop Pell, Steve Fielding, Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd are understandably nervous , she said.
Ms Patten said that she was about to lodge an application to register the party in Victoria and was hopeful of
running candidates in the next state election. Although the next NSW election is still 10 months away, the onerous provisions put in place by the two major parties and the Greens made it impossible to register the Sex Party there before that state
election. It's a form of gerrymandering , she said. Instead of redrawing electorate boundaries to suit themselves they have redrawn the conditions of entry into politics with much the same result.
The Australian Sex Party is demanding an enquiry into why a new question has appeared on Incoming Passenger Cards at the Customs point of entry into Australia. The new question asks if they are carrying any pornography .
President, Fiona Patten, said that this development now gave Government officials an unfettered right to examine someone's laptop or mobile phone as they re-entered the country. A senior Customs official, Richard Janeczko, has been quoted as saying that
materials stored on electronic media devices such as laptops, thumb drives and iPhones are on their target list.
Travellers must now also declare perfectly legal materials such as Category 1 and 2 Restricted magazines, X18+ films and quite
probably a large section of R18+ films which have explicit sex in them. Ms Patten said the change marked the beginning of a new era of official investigation into people's private lives – being investigated or searched on the basis that you might have
legal material in your possession.
She said that by answering YES to the new Question One on the declarations, people would then be asked whether they are declaring a weapon, illicit drugs or pornography. When they answered pornography their materials would then be examined by one and possibly a number of Customs Officers. If people were at all embarrassed by the question, often surrounded by family and friends, they could be taken into a private room and even have their person searched.
Is it fair that Customs officers rummage through someone's luggage and pull out a legal men's magazine or a lesbian journal in front of their children or their mother-in-law , she said?
Customs' official reasoning behind the changes
states that No consultation was undertaken under section 17 of the Legislative Instruments Act 2003 before this instrument was made as it is of a minor or machinery nature and does not substantially alter existing arrangements.
the Minister call this monstrous invasion of people's privacy and the criminalisation of hundreds of thousands of people who will answer NO to this question out of embarrassment, a 'minor' or 'machinery' change , she said? If the question was
designed to stop child pornography being smuggled into the country then the question should have asked about 'child pornography' and not about a product that one in four Australians use on a regular basis. (La Trobe University, Sex In Australia,
Ms Patten said the changes were part of a continuation of the demonisation of sex by the Christian leaders of both major parties.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange had his passport briefly confiscated when he returned to his native Australia last week, according to The Age.
Arriving at Melbourne, immigration staff told Assange his passport was looking worn and would be
cancelled. Thirty minutes after his passport was returned to him, a police officer then searched his bags and questioned him about his computer hacking offences he committed in 1991 when he was a teenager.
Despite the search, Assange was then told
his passport is still classified as normal on the immigration database and could therefore travel freely.
Speaking on Australia's Dateline show, Assange said he is wary of travelling in Australia, where he was born, because of information
that has been published on Wikileaks.
Assange had been told that the publication of a proposed blacklist of banned sites has been referred to the Australian Federal Police, who were investigating how it was leaked and then published on Wikileaks,
though AFP told the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday that the case had been dropped.
Perth's Town of Vincent is embroiled in a tiff over its decision to allow a play about the history of Israel to be presented at a town hall, despite the production being branded anti-Semitic by Perth's Jewish leaders.
Seven Jewish Children: A
Play for Gaza is a 10-minute, six-page play by British playwright Caryl Churchill covering events over 70 years such as the Holocaust, Palestinian suicide attacks and the 2008 Gaza invasion.
Throughout the play Jewish adults discuss what, if
anything, their children should be told of the events.
Plans by Friends of Palestine Western Australia to have a reading at the North Perth Town Hall have been attacked by the Jewish Community Council of Western Australia, which is petitioning the
local council to cancel the booking.
Council president Tony Tate, who yesterday admitted he had not read the play, said it was offensive and in parts based on the libel that Jewish people killed children in order to use their blood for religious
But Friends of Palestine WA convenor Alex Whisson and director Vivienne Glance disagreed the play was racially vilifying, saying attempts to block the play were an attack on free speech and artistic liberty.
Town of Vincent chief
executive John Giorgi, who said he had received threatening phone calls over the matter, said the production met booking requirements and it was not the role of local government to act as a censor.
The strong response from Australia's gaming community to the R18+ issue may have backfired a bit, as the government is now delaying discussion of the issue in order to get feedback from more of the community.
GameSpot notes that Minister for Home
Affairs Brendan O'Connor indicated that, …further work needs to be done before a decision can be made. When pressed, O'Connor told the publication that ministers had agreed that a broader consultation of the public's views was needed following
the dominant response from 'interest groups.'
Perhaps the Australian government doesn't understand that gamers now permeate just about every corner of culture, a point made by Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (iGEA) President
Ron Curry, who stated, I'm not sure how the [Home Affairs] minister pigeon-holes them as an 'interest group', because gamers cover all facets of society.
Customs dogs trained to hunt out porny memory sticks
It was ironic that Communications Minister Stephen Conroy announced the postponement of his internet filtering legislation via an adviser last week. Advice was not something he was fond of taking. Sensing a voter backlash on the legislation, which was
supposed to be introduced into the parliament before the federal election, Rudd and Conroy are banking on removing it as an election issue. But will they?
There is every chance a post-election internet filter will be more censorious than the
proposed pre-election one. The Rudd government has been quietly increasing controls on sexual material coming into the country through other means. Anyone coming back to Australia from an overseas trip now has a new question on their incoming passenger
card. It asks if you have any pornography in your suitcase. They've also raised the bar for those who bring in more than 25 DVDs that would be refused classification such as a DIY euthanasia film or an adult film where a couple spanks each other; both of
which are available on Amazon and YouTube. Yet you can get five years' jail for them now.
Australian Christian Lobby chief executive Jim Wallace has boasted publicly of having numerous meetings with Conroy about banning sexual imagery in
Australian homes and Rudd addressed the group's national conference last November. With another four years to run after an election win, Conroy could go back to the original plan he floated, which was to blacklist the X18+ classification entirely.
Conroy changed his mind about this one night on SBS television's Insight program in March last year when challenged by Australian Sex Party leader Fiona Patten. She pointed out X18+ material was legal in Australia and that filtering legal adult erotica
would be the thin end of the wedge.
Suddenly, he changed his policy to we will only ban material that is refused classification and already illegal .
Curiously, Conroy fronted Patten in the green room after the show and regaled her
with Why didn't you just call me about this? We could have sorted it out. You didn't have to set up a political party against us.
The Australian government has published a status report regarding the public consultation on the possible introduction of R18+ classification within Australia.
Over the 2 month period 60,000 submissions flooded the Attorney-Generals Department
with 98.2% of people supporting an R18+ for video games in Australia.
The majority of submissions received in a non-template hardcopy were from the games retailer EB Games (34,938 total: 4202 of these included individual comments while 30,736
provided no additional comments). This was followed by submissions that followed the template collated by the organisation Grow Up Australia (16,056), with many of these providing additional comments.
The remaining submissions were sent directly
to the Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department. The majority were received via email (7347), followed by post (745) and fax (592). Many of these also contained individual comments. The Department received 33 submissions from community, church and
On 7th May Australia's Attorneys General met and discussed the R18+ situation. Federal Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor confirmed that no decisions were made over the issue. Censorship Ministers have requested further
analysis of community and expert views. It is not just the weight of numbers that need to be considered. It is also the strength of the arguments on each side.
The next SCAG meeting will most likely be around September.
Games producer Electronic Arts boss Frank Gibeau wrote an editorial piece for Games Industry where he said that government policies that don't allow for the rating of mature content in videogames effectively censor entertainment choices for adults.
He goes on to say that the policies show a poor understanding of today's videogaming audience.
Existing legislation in Australia that limits age ratings of games to 16 demonstrates a distance between those policies and the
reality of the videogame industry and the people that play interactive games in Australia today.
The spectrum of gamers is as wide as the viewership of television, movies, theatre, and the readers of books. Governments don't insist that all books
be written for children, or that all television shows be cartoons. Adult gamers want their governments to treat them with the same respect they get as movie goers and book readers.
Adult Australians should be allowed to choose the games they play,
including those with mature themes.
Australian internet censorship minister Stephen Conroy has confirmed his department was hosting a private online forum to discuss controversial issues about the filter with internet service providers (ISPs), including the possibility of making it an
offence to promote methods of circumventing the filter.
He has repeatedly stated, however, that the act itself of circumventing the filter would not be made an offence.
The Pirate Party Australia has likened the idea being discussed to
oppressive censorship regimes in Iran and China.
If circumvention will not be illegal, then how can it be illegal to simply tell people how to circumvent the government-controlled infrastructure in order to secure access to information that the
Australian Government may deem inappropriate, said the Pirate Party in a statement.
The Australian government is considering another round of public consultation on its repressive internet filter plans, this time to supposedly fine tune the transparency and accountability measures.
The legislation was already unlikely to
get introduced to the parliament before the June sitting, and even a short public consultation would almost certainly push its introduction back further.
Which means this legislation probably won't get looked at until the after the Federal
This is a difficult issue for both sides of politics, and as much as Government might be gaming the drafting of the legislation to keep it out of the way of an election campaign, the Opposition is likely to just as pleased not to have to
come to grips with a firm position.
The mandatory internet filter policy is not, as some might suggest, electoral poison. It is about as polarising an issue as you will find anywhere in contemporary Australia. The internet filter generates
enormous heat – genuine anger and angst – among those who are strongly opposed to it. But equally, its goals find a quieter form of support among many in mainstream Australia.
Of course anything can happen in an election year. And in an immediate
post-election environment. But if Kevin Rudd remains PM, you can be sure the filter will remain on the agenda.
Euthanasia campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke has warned that Queensland seniors will resort to desperate measures should the Rudd Government restrict access to reliable voluntary euthanasia information through its proposed internet censorship.
Nitschke welcomed 120 seniors to a recent suicide workshop in Toowong that featured a hacking masterclass showing seniors how to get around the proposed filter.
It was the biggest turnout we've had so far to a workshop, said Dr
Nitschke, who has spent six months touring workshops across Australia, Europe and US.
The Government's Clean Feed internet policy will bar seniors from accessing Dr Nitschke's Exit International website where they can download his Peaceful Pill
Handbook . The document details ways of obtaining Nembutal, a lethal drug illegally imported from Mexico and South-East Asia by Australian euthanasia supporters.
Devised by a leading Australian computer hacker, the masterclass showed seniors
how to get through the Government's filtering technology using their home computers.
Dr Nitschke said: If the Federal Government thinks it's a good idea to keep people deprived of good information then they have to explain why one of the
commonest methods used by the elderly (to take their own lives) is by hanging themselves. That's an extremely grim death. Those who deprive these people of good information and force them down that horrible path I think have some explaining to do.
The thirty-four year Australian censorship history of Salo has taken another turn with it again being awarded an R18+ (Scenes of torture and degradation, sexual violence and nudity) rating.
The Director of the Classification Board,
Donald McDonald has stated that the R18+ version was rated because of: the inclusion of 176 minutes of additional material which provided a context to the feature film, mitigating its impact.
The new Salo rating has a condition
attached that: this film is classified R 18+ based on the fact that it contains additional material. Screening this film in a cinema without the additional material would constitute a breach of classification laws.
Previously Salo has been
banned in Australia except for a slight respite between 1993-1998 when cinema showings were allowed by the Review Board after an appeal.
Update: Australian government appeal
against the R18+ for Salo
17th April 2010.
The Australian federal government has asked censorship authorities to reconsider their approval of an Italian film - twice banned in Australia over its portrayal of sexual sadism - for release here on DVD.
The Classification Board approved the
distribution of Salo o le 120 giornate di Sodoma (The 120 Days of Sodom) , overturning a 1998 decision to ban the film in Australia.
The board gave the film an R18+ rating and compelled it to carry a warning that it contained scenes of
torture and degradation, sexual violence and nudity .
But the Home Affairs Minister, Brendan O'Connor, has now asked the Classification Review Board to reassess the decision.
O'Connor asked for the decision to be reviewed because he
believed a reassessment would be in the public interest : There are likely to be sections of the community who will have different views on the content of this film, so it is appropriate to have an independent review.
Diary: Review Board to consider Salo on 4-5th May 2010
The Classification Review Board (the Review Board) has received an application to review the classification of the recently submitted, modified version of the film Salo o le 120 Giornate di Sodoma (Salo) .
This modified version of Salo
was classified R18+ by the Classification Board on 14 April 2010.
The review is in response to an application received from the Minister for Home Affairs. Under the Commonwealth Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995,
the Minister for Home Affairs may make an application for a review at any time.
The Review Board will meet on 4 and 5 May 2010 to consider the application.
If an individual or organisation wishes to apply for standing as an interested party
to this review, please write to the Convenor of the Review Board. The closing date to lodge your application for standing as an interested party and any submissions is 29 April 2010. Please note that the Review Board can only consider submissions about
the film Salo itself. Submissions should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Review Board is an independent merits review body. It makes a fresh classification decision upon receipt of an application for review. The Review Board decision
takes the place of the original decision made by the Classification Board.
Thailand has protested to the Australian government over the airing of a documentary critical of the Thai royal family and warned that the broadcast could affect ties between the nations.
A senior representative from the Thai embassy met with
officials from Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs o express his concern at the programme, Foreign Correspondent , aired by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
The concern is that it might affect the good relations
between Thailand and Australia, especially the people to people relations, Saksee Phromyothi, minister-counsellor at the Royal Thai Embassy, told AFP: We consider this an issue matter of national security... because the royal family, the monarchy,
in our constitution is above politics.
Thailand's ambassador designate Kriangsak Kittichaisaree has also written to ABC managing director Mark Scott to complain about the programme which could breach Thailand's lese-majeste laws which prohibit
criticism of the royals: I regret that an organisation of the ABC's stature has lowered its own standard by airing the said documentary which is presented in a manner no different from tabloid journalism .
A spokesman for Australia's
Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed that Thai embassy officials had complained about the ABC programme but said: The Australian government does not and cannot control content run by Australian media organisation .
A pro R18+ petition sponsored by retailer GAME has gathered the signatures of over 72,000 Australians.
The company plans to present some of it findings to a Standing Committee of Attorneys-General meeting on May 7 reports GameSpot, though it's
unclear if the issue of R18+ will even be on the agenda of that gathering. GAME also plans to present the petition to Federal Home Affairs Minister Brendon O'Connor.
The petition, also sponsored by Everyone Plays, achieved the large number of
supporters in only six weeks, and is on track to become the largest petition in Australian history, surpassing a 2005 petition for Work Choices that received 85,189 signatures.
A similar petition sponsored by EB Games and Grow Up Australia totaled
over 46,000 signatures.
Following a raid on an X-rated DVD warehouse in Marrickville, Greens MP Lee Rhiannon has called on the NSW government to lift the ban on the sale of X18+ rated non-violent erotica, criticising the ambiguity surrounding current legislation and the lack of
government initiative to reform the laws to bring them in line with community expectations.
It's time for the government to lift the ban on the sale of non-violent erotica in NSW, said Ms Rhiannon: It doesn't make sense for the sale of
non-violent erotica to be illegal, given that it is legal to possess it. Non-violent erotica is classified as containing consensual sexually explicit activity between adults. It does not contain violence or coercion, nor does it depict people under 18
years of age.
The ambiguity in current laws means non-violent erotica can be found in petrol stations and regular video stores, exposing the material to minors and those who might be offended by it. With the ban on the sale of non-violent erotica
so rarely enforced, any raided businesses are likely to be quite surprised.
The Greens are bringing a motion before NSW parliament to lift the ban on the sale of X18+ non-violent erotica and restrict its sale to adult shops.
ambiguity regarding X18+ non-violent erotica only encourages a black market in the industry. It is estimated this is worth at least $200 million a year in Australia. NSW has the largest illegal adult media industry in Australia. It is believed more than
three-quarters of adult materials sold in NSW are pirated.
Amending the legislation would ensure that trade in non-violent erotica occurred legally and in an appropriate environment, Ms Rhiannon said.
After John Rau took over the job in South Australia following Atkinson's resignation earlier this year, political party Gamers4Croydon was popping champagne corks, claiming Rau supported the adults-only classification.
The Australian Christian
Lobby hit back in a report in The Advertiser, claiming SA Labor had given it a written promise to oppose the changes.
However, Rau said through a spokeswoman that the response to the Christian lobby was given before the election and before Rau
took over. He had yet to come to a final decision on the matter.
The response to the Australian Christian Lobby was a clarification of the Government's position, he said: I have no preconceptions about this issue and intend to listen to
the arguments. I can neither support nor wisely argue against a position if I am not aware of all the facts.
A spokeswoman from the Federal Attorney-General's Department confirmed the matter of an R18+ classification for computer games was on
the agenda for discussion at the next Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) meeting on May 7.
But the spokeswoman noted that the censorship ministers may decide not to vote on the changes at the May meeting, instead electing to defer the
decision to a later meeting to allow them to properly analyse all public submissions to the recent consultation.
This week's seizure of over 1,400 allegedly illegal X18+ DVDs from a warehouse in Marrickville, has shown New South Wales and all other state classification laws to be in conflict with Federal government laws. The case will be the first prosecution
brought in Australia for selling an X18+ federally classified film over the internet.
Australian Sex Party President Fiona Patten said that the raid and seizure of the X18+ DVDs was a joint action by NSW Police and officers of the federal
Classification Board (CB). These officers of the Board work side by side with other Board officers who classify these films as legal tender for the Commonwealth and it represents a clear conflict of interest . How can you have public servants
in the same agency approving films for the general public on the one hand and then on the other, they help police prosecute people for selling these films'?
Further to this, federal Communications Minister, Steven Conroy, has recently stated that
X18+ material will not be blacklisted under new internet filtering proposals because only material that is illegal will be blacklisted.
She said that the internet made a mockery of state laws that prohibited the sale but not the purchase or
possession of classified X18+ films. State governments now appear part of the Nanny State for continuing to support prohibition on this popular product even though many state MPs and their staff purchase and watch X18+ films on and off line. I would like
all NSW state MPs to have the honesty and integrity to stand up and say if they have ever purchased and watched this material and the reason they support continued prohibition.
Ms Patten said that the drain on police and court resources to
enforce the prohibition ran into millions of dollars each year. Twelve police officers were taken off community policing for a day to raid the Marrickville warehouse. They will spend at least another two weeks processing and storing the 1,400 films
ready for court and will have to pay $800 each to have them classified. The taxpayer is being asked to spend well over $100,000 and waste valuable police resources to prosecute an obscenity case where the films have been checked and classified by
Commonwealth censors and are legal on the internet.
Ren Savant's The 8th Day has been Refused Classification in Australia for a second time.
A look at the synopsis shows the plot to be way too ambitious to stand any chance of being rated X18+ (hardcore) in Australia. (ue to 'non
violence' requirements even in the non sex plot scenes).
The sexed-up sci-fi film, billed as an apolcalyptic erotic adventure, won a total of seven AVN Awards. The film stars Kayden Kross and Amber Rayne, and it's one of the rare
pornographic films that's actually worth watching for other reasons: Think Stephen King's The Stand, but, you know, with a lot more sex.
We seriously doubted that the Classification Board had become more lenient so we took a look at the number of submissions for the January to March
period and found them to be 138, this compares to 218 for 2009, 206 for 2008, 205 for 2007, and 253 for 2006.
So 2010 is significantly down on previous years. Having failed to be legalised in all the States, and with the internet and unrated DVDs
eating into the market, X-rated titles could soon be few and far between.
Kick-Ass Has opened in Australian cinemas with an MA15+ rating, restricting it to those over 15 unless accompanied by an adult.
A spokesman for the Australian Family Association, John Morrissey, said the film was part of the shift in public
standards and its classification was a mess . You've got some R certificate language but the film is rated MA, meaning that children can go along and yet it is most definitely aimed at 12, 13 and 14-year-olds.
In a media release
issued last week, the director of the Classification Board, Donald McDonald, urged parents to note the film's classification: As one of the main characters in this film is a 12-year-old girl, [sic] parents may be mistaken in thinking this is a film
suitable for children. It is not suitable for persons under the age of 15 years.
But a film reviewer with The Age, Jim Schembri, gave the film two thumbs up for refreshingly giving a fillip to the comic-book genre for an adult audience. All
too predictably, a low-rent controversy has been stirred up over the film's MA15+ rating, which some think is too mild, he said: What nanny state nonsense … The suggestion that only a hard R rating can make that clear sadly highlights the
need for people to take full responsibility for what their kids see.
When a tiny Australian church decided to remind people that Easter was about something more than chocolate, it was thought that re-enacting the crucifixion in a busy shopping mall would do the trick.
But 40 minutes into the display —
which comprised a man spattered in red paint, a large wooden cross, two women mourners in black and orchestral music — the police shut it down, saying that it breached the peace. Shoppers, taken aback by the apparently bloody man hanging in
Geelong, Victoria, complained that it had reduced children to tears. One mother said that her six-year-old son had been upset at seeing Jesus being hurt and crying out: Why, why?
Pastor Sarah Kenneally, of the Heaven on Earth Church
said that she had seen no distressed children and that the decision compromised religious freedom. It wasn't like we were trying to take over the city, or tell everyone they were going to Hell, she said. They [the police] didn't talk to us
first, they just came and yanked the cord out of our amp and said we had to stop. We got through 40 minutes of Jesus hanging on the cross. I was a bit disappointed.
The church has promised to tone down its performances in the future.
Australian nutters are calling for a ban on the sale of pornographic magazines from newsagents, milkbars, convenience stores, supermarkets and petrol stations.
The group has asked censorship ministers to review the rules under which magazines such
as Playboy , Penthouse, People, The Picture, Zoo and Ralph are reviewed, saying they are increasingly explicit and contributing to the sexualisation of children, Fairfax newspapers report.
A letter to the standing committee of
attorneys-general/censorship ministers signed by a former chief justice of the Family Court Alastair Nicholson, the chief executive of World Vision Tim Costello, actor Noni Hazlehurst and 34 academics, child professionals and advocates says such material
should be restricted to adults-only premises.
They are particularly disturbed by the prevalence of teen sex magazines featuring women apparently aged more than 18 but looking younger and styled with braces and pigtails but in highly
sexualised poses and sometimes performing sex acts. Under Australian censorship laws it is illegal to use under-age models or models who appear to be under 18.
Julie Gale, director of the nutter group Kids Free 2B Kids, said easy access to the
internet means young people are experiencing unprecedented exposure to pornographic images, voluntarily or involuntarily: But allowing pornography and overtly sexualised images to be sold in the public arena with easy access for children and teens
tells them that this is acceptable. It gives it public validation.
Attempts to ban the infamous Rapelay video game have inevitably generated a little interest in it on torrent sites.
Australian nutters have picked up on this small interest game as useful propaganda for calling for internet censorship.
Karen Willis, executive officer of the NSW Rape Crisis Centre, said that the existence of material such as the RapeLay video game, which lets players simulate stalking and raping young girls, made internet filters, such as those proposed by the
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy also believes that filters are necessary to block content such as RapeLay for all Australians, but a poll on this website yesterday found 96% of the 45,000 respondents did not support
Senator Conroy's policy.
Sexual assault victims' rights advocate Nina Funnell is against online censorship. ..BUT... said: These games are quite vile and for victims out there it's quite distressing to come across these games or
even just be aware that they exist and there's a culture of rape tolerance and acceptance. Willis said she absolutely believes the forthcoming internet filtering regime is necessary and should block sites that offer access to the game.
While I don't think that playing games causes people to go out and do things, what it can do for those who may already have that preclusion is further break down social barriers to them taking that action, she said.
Colin Jacobs, spokesman
for the online users' lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia, said on the surface a game like RapeLay might seem like a good argument for internet censorship but in reality trying to filter it would not work. Games like this will only ever
represent a tiny minority, and the proper response is largely parental, to make sure kids aren't getting their hands on them.