Five years after forming as a political party, the Australian Sex Party has won its first seat in parliament.
The party's national President and long time civil liberties lobbyist, Fiona Patten, has just been formally declared the winner of the fifth
seat in the Northern Metropolitan region of the Victorian Legislative Council.
Ms Patten won with the fifth highest primary vote in the region and the support of seven other progressive parties who preferenced her highly. She said:
The result is a ringing endorsement of the democratic nature of the preferential voting system. We are becoming more like the many European countries who have a number of parties vying for government on their own or in combination
with another party. New Zealand also follows this trend. The introduction of minor parties into the political landscape in Australia is a sign of a healthy democracy. My vote was made up of a combination of the votes of the progressive minor parties in
my region and ended up being around about a quota in its own right".
She said she would seek to progress the key policies of many of these parties like The Voluntary Euthanasia Party, The Basics Rock 'n Roll Party, The Animal
Justice Party, Independent Peter Allen and The Australian Cyclists.
Ms Patten has resigned as CEO of Australia's adult industry association, the Eros Association. She founded the association in 1992 and acknowledged the support and the depth of
civil libertarian values present in the industry:
Now is the time for the hard work to begin and from today it does. I will immediately commence work on referring Voluntary Euthanasia to the Victorian Law Reform
Commission and then, with the mandate I have, will begin progressing drug law reform in Victoria, including legalising medical and recreational cannabis.
13,000 people have signed a petition in Australia calling for Target to ban the Bible from its stores.
The protest comes from gaming enthusiasts after Grand Theft Auto V was banned from Target and Kmart this week due to its violent content.The petition, which is posted in change.org, points out that the sickening religious book encourages readers
to commit sexual violence and kill women .
News.com.au reports the disgruntled gamers are also calling for Target to change its violent name and aggressive logo , a petition to ban all knife sales and a demand for a ban on Fifty
Shades of Gray.
Update: However to be fair, Target did themselves no favours with this advert
I mean seriously, what is wrong with this picture? What were they thinking? This is an advertisement and it is essentially informing consumers that Grand Theft Auto V is a toy for children on the
same level as Peppa Pig.
The Australian Commonwealth is currently conducting a program of classification-related social research.
As a first step in the implementation of the research program, a review of relevant public
opinion research and literature was undertaken. The review included public opinion research from Australia and overseas on perceptions, awareness, use and understanding of classification categories and consumer advice and alignment of classification
categories and consumer advice with community standards. Relevant academic studies were also included in this report.
Review conclusions are as follows:
There is broad backing for and confidence in classification systems, both in Australia and in comparable jurisdictions.
There is a high awareness of the NCS and categories/ markings amongst
the Australian public; however, quantitative research undertaken in this area is dated.
Understanding of classification categories and markings amongst the Australian public (and amongst the public in comparable
jurisdictions) appears to be limited, with significant variation observed across categories/ markings.
Understanding of mid-level classifications amongst the Australian public is especially problematic, and sometimes
compares unfavourably to the levels observed in comparable jurisdictions.
The Australian publics' understanding of the consumer advice that accompanies classification symbols is incomplete, and sometimes compares
unfavourably to the level of understanding observed in other jurisdictions.
Using separate classifications for sexually explicit films and other adults only films can cause confusion.
Despite broad community and stakeholder support for the existence of a classification system, views on the RC category (and similar) are mixed.
Classification decisions for films and computer
games are broadly aligned with community standards, both in Australia and in comparable jurisdictions.
Parents (and other primary caregivers) are more supportive of classification and rating systems when compared to
the general public.
Young people across jurisdictions are, on the whole, knowledgeable and supportive of classification systems; however, self-reported support may not translate into actual use of the system to avoid
(or prepare to view) material, especially amongst older children and adolescents.
Use of classification and rating information amongst the general public (especially parents) appears to be relatively high across
jurisdictions, with Australia comparing favourably; however use amongst parents may be overestimated.
Empirical evidence assessing potential for harm should be critically considered in conjunction with data assessing
There is widespread agreement amongst community members that certain content is likely to be harmful (especially to children and young people); however the relative potential for harm is thought
to be mediated by: Frequency; Duration; and Context.
There is broad community support for the inclusion of selected fetishes in higher-level, restricted content.
concerns that exposure to gambling and non-illicit drug use (i.e. alcohol and tobacco) via films and computer games may be harmful, both at an individual and societal level. It is therefore worth considering (a) the inclusion of a specific Gambling
element within the NCS, and (b) the expansion in scope of the Drug use element to including portrayals of smoking and alcohol consumption.
Official snitches reported an Adelaide sex shop for possessing and selling unclassified and X rated films.
Police raided the adult shop at Ottoway and seized several thousand DVDs that would be refused classification or were X18+ rated (standard
The Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 states that a person must not sell an unclassified film that would, if classified, be classified as banned or X18+; or a film classified RC (Refused Classification) or
Australia's law-enforcement agency has defended its use of a law that requires ISPs to block websites government agencies deem illegal, without judicial oversight.
Australian Federal Police (AFP) claimed they need section 313 of the Telecommunications
Act, which requires telcos to enforce criminal laws, protect public revenue and anything deemed to be a matter of national security.
The AFP, financial regulator ASIC and an unidentified national security agency have interpreted the law to mean
they have the power to order telcos to block websites hosting illegal material.
But ISPs have called for restrictions. They argue there is not enough oversight and that some providers had even received blocking requests from animal protection
agency the RSPCA.
Between 2011 and 2013 the Department of Communications estimated 32 requests to block websites had been made. As far as it was aware, only three government agencies had used the power.
A few snippets from Director Lesley O'Brien's overview:
In this reporting year, the Board made 4156 decisions. This included 4066 commercial classification decisions, 30 classification decisions on internet content referred by the
Australian Communications and Media Authority and 60 classification decisions for enforcement agencies.
During the reporting period, 38 publications were audited. One publication had its serial classification revoked as a result
of the audit. This decision was subsequently overturned by the Review Board.
Nineteen of the Board's decisions were reviewed by the Classification Review Board in 2013â?�14. These were for the review of the
classification for 13 computer games, five films and to review the decision to revoke a serial classification of a publication. Of the 13 computer games reviewed, the original classification remained unchanged. Of the five films reviewed, the original
classification for one film remained unchanged. The Review Board decided not to revoke the serial classification for the publication upon review.
On 1 January 2013, an R 18+ category for computer games took effect in conjunction
with new Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games which were agreed to by all state and territory ministers who have responsibility for classification matters.
It is a tried and tested technique: fomenting a culture of fear of ceaseless war or terrorism, in order to justify arbitrary and authoritarian incursions on civil liberties back at home. We've read about it in George Orwell's 1984 , we've heard about
it being practised by oppressive regimes such as North Korea, and now we're witnessing it first-hand, in our own supposed liberal democracies including the
United States , the
United Kingdom and now
The latest shadow over the civil liberties of Australians is a yet-unnamed
mandatory data retention bill that will be introduced into the federal parliament during the week of 27 October. Under the flimsy pretext that this measure
is urgently needed to fight terrorism (though actually its scope will be far broader ), the bill, if
passed, will require Australian Internet providers to scoop up highly personal information about their customers as they use the Internet, and to store it for two years for law enforcement agencies to access.
What you searched for
before emailing your lawyer. Who you Skyped with afterwards. Who they have Skyped with. Where you were when chatting with your partner last night. The websites you visit during your lunchbreak. These are just a few examples of the kind of personal
information that Australian government agencies will have at their fingertips under this Orwellian law.
Australians have not taken this threat lying down. On 6 October a grassroots website called
Stop the Spies was launched to expose this threat and to mobilize ordinary Internet users to stop it. The site contains a form that Australians can use to contact their elected
representatives to demand that their privacy be respected, and social media tools to build a network of resistance. If you're not in Australia, perhaps you have Australian friends--if so, you can still help by spreading the word!