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.
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.
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.
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 Labor Party has suspended the president of the New South Wales upper house, Amanda Fazio, after she voted against a bill empowering easier police prosecution of adult consensual hardcore.
During a debate in Parliament last night, Ms Fazio
defied her party by crossing the floor to vote with the Greens. Liberals and Nationals MPs, as well as the Shooters, Family First and Christian Democrats all voted in favour of the bill. The Greens opposed it.
Under party dictates, MPs must vote
along party lines, except if they are allowed a conscience vote.
The bill is designed to boost the powers of police to prosecute those selling X-rated material. Under the Classifications (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Enforcement
Amendment Bill, retailers charged with selling banned adult films face being asked to choose between admitting the offence or paying hundreds of dollars to have it classified by the Classification Board. The government says the proposal is designed to
save money by removing the need for police to send films and other material for classification before prosecution.
Material rated X18+ or Refused Classification is banned from sale in NSW.
The bill has been criticised by the Greens and
Australia's peak adult industry group, the Eros Foundation. They claim it effectively hands censorship powers to the police and may result in unfair pressure on retailers.
Greens MP David Shoebridge said: Under the bill, members of the NSW
Police Force effectively are empowered to act as national classifiers. Clearly, members of the police force simply do not have the relevant training to undertake the role of classifier.
Police who charge a person with selling films or other
material rated X18+ or Refused Classification will be able to ask the seller to sign a notice agreeing that the material would likely be classified that way by the Classification Board. If the seller refuses and is found guilty, prosecutors can
apply for an order that the defendant pay the cost of having the material rated by the Classification Board. The cost to classify a 120-minute DVD is about $700. No classification costs will be payable if the seller signs and is subsequently found not
Under the current legislation, police must pay to have a seized film, publication or computer game classified. Once classified, they must apply for an evidentiary certificate before proceeding with a prosecution. The proposed legislation
removes the need to obtain an evidentiary certificate, which can cost up to $1400, of which the police must pay half. Police are entitled to 100 fee-free applications for classification and evidentiary certificates, but the government says they regularly
exceed this quota.
Perth sex shops can continue to sell X-rated DVDs illegally without fear of prosecution.
WA Police has admitted that enforcing the State's movie classification laws on adult pornography is a non-core police activity and a low priority
The police will investigate the sale of X-rated DVDs only if there is evidence of tangible links to organised crime.
In October last year, Attorney-General Christian Porter confirmed that it was an offence to sell X-rated DVDs under
Section 81 of WA's Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Enforcement Act 1996. Offenders faced a $10,000 fine.
A spokeswoman for Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan said police had to prioritise resources to areas of greatest
demand and need:
WA Police maintains the view that the Classifications Branch of the Federal Attorney-General's Department is the most appropriate agency to investigate breaches of classification and copyright due
to its considerable knowledge and experience, she said.
Referrals from the Classifications Branch are examined for organised crime involvement. Where there is no link identified, these matters are recorded on WAPol's
database and filed for intelligence purposes only. The majority of other State jurisdictions adopt the same position and maintain that X-Rated adult pornography is essentially a non-core police activity and of low priority for police law enforcement.
Sex shops started selling X-rated DVDs early last year when they decided that the State's 14-year-old movie classification laws contravened their constitutional right to trade interstate. X-rated DVDs can be sold legally in
Canberra and the Northern Territory and were previously available to WA customers by mail order.
Australian Police have seized 4000 pornography magazines and DVDs in a raid in Thomastown earlier this month.
Whittlesea Crime Investigation Unit found 3500 illegal X-rated DVDs and about 500 X-rated magazines when they executed a search warrant
at a business premises in Brand Drive/
A man was arrested and interviewed about possessing and distributing a commercial quantity of unclassified adult material. He has been released pending further inquiries.
Detective Senior Constable
Mark Perna claimed the raid was a good result after a joint operation with the Classification Office in NSW: People may not realise how serious these offences are, and they carry a penalty of a maximum of 10 years' imprisonment or $143,000 fine .