Magazine Censorship in Australia

Barely Legal winds up Australia'n nutters

21st November

Update: British Prude...

BP ban softcore magazines from their petrol station stores

Petrol giant BP has removed porn magazines with an R-rating from 250 stores nationwide.

The move, which was welcomed by women's groups, will ensure that publications given a Category 1-restricted classification will no longer be available at the outlets.

Although the titles have been deemed inappropriate by the organisation, it can only lobby for their removal from a further 1150 nationwide stores that it has a co-branding arrangement with.

Update: Shell Follow Suit

4th December 2008. See article from

Shell/Coles Express follow suit removing Category 1 magazines nationwide. Julie Gale says ‘The Federal classification system and its State and Territory enforcement arms need an overhaul. They are not working.'


7th December

Update: Nutters First...

New Zealand nutters inspired by Australia's service station porn ban

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie is calling on Shell and BP service stations to follow their Australian counterparts' lead and ban porn magazines from their stores.

A year and a half ago Australian petrol stations sealed adult glossies and have now gone a step further and banned them completely.

McCoskrie says it is a precedent New Zealand ought to be following.


26th May

Update: Under Cover Cops...

Nutter senator whinges hardcore for sale in unrestricted shops

Australia's Federal police should be given powers to raid milk bars, service stations and corner stores in search of illegal porn, a Senate committee had been told by a nutter senator.

State police clearly were not enforcing laws dealing with pornographic magazines sold openly in many shops, Family First senator Steve Fielding said.

The Australian parliament could pass a federal law imposing penalties on those selling this sort of material. Attorney-General's department secretary Roger Wilkins said the measure could be possible, although there may be constitutional constraints. Tougher penalties had been raised in commonwealth-state consultations but the big issue was enforcement and that could require an expansion in AFP numbers.

Classification Review Board director Donald McDonald confirmed existing laws were being flouted. Some material had never been classified while other hardcore material was being sold in a sealed plastic bag through unrestricted premises. Yes the law is being broken, not infrequently, McDonald told the committee.


24th October

Update: Category 2 Nutters...

Australia considers restricting softcore mags to sex shops has reported on a parliamentary meeting discussing the censorship of games, films and magazines.

Interesting on the topic of magazine censorship. At the moment Category 1 softcore is restricted to adults only but can be sold in general shops. Category 2 hardcore is restricted to sex shops.

Now it seems the authorities are considering restricting softcore mags to sex shops too.

Senator BARNETT—Let us take another route. What progress has been made by the Commonwealth state and territory compliance and enforcement working party which is developing proposals to improve compliance with the National Classification Scheme for offensive publications and films?

Helen Daniels—The working party was established following the censorship ministers meeting in April 2009. It is developing proposals to strengthen and harmonise classification offences and penalties, reforming serial classification declarations and considering other means to regulate offensive publications including replacing the category 1 restricted and category 2 restricted classifications with a single restrictive classification and also looking at issues of sale and display of restricted publications.

Senator BARNETT —What was the last one and can you expand on it?

Helen Daniels—It is about limiting the sale and display of restricted publications to adult-only premises. They are some of the issues that the working party is looking at.


30th January

Updated: Little Tits at the Classification Board...

Australian censors ban small breasted models in their 20's

The Australian Censor Board has started to ban depictions of small-breasted women in adult publications and films.

This is in response to a campaign led by Kids Free 2 B Kids and promoted by Barnaby Joyce and Guy Barnett in Senate Estimates late last year.

Mainstream companies such as Larry Flint's Hustler produce some of the publications that have been banned. These companies are regulated by the FBI to ensure that only adult performers are featured in their publications.

Fiona Patten of the Australian Sex Party said : We are starting to see depictions of women in their late 20s being banned because they have an A cup size , she said. It may be an unintended consequence of the Senator's actions but they are largely responsible for the sharp increase in breast size in Australian adult magazines of late .

Patten explained that Australian culture was being dumbed down in the sexual department and that political leaders were actively propagating an increasingly narrow window of acceptable sexual acts and cultures. She said that all new appointees to the Classification Board and the Classification Review Board should undergo a short course in the latest scientific developments around sexuality and some sort of biology course to bring them up to date with the broad range of acceptable adult sexuality and body types.

Update: Australian Censors Respond

30th January 2010. Based on article from

The misleadingly named Australian Classification Board (ACB) has responded to accusations by The Australian Sex Party that material with depictions of women with small breasts has been banned. A spokesperson for the ACB told that publications which contain offensive depictions or descriptions of persons who are, or appear to be , persons under the age of 18 (whether they are engaged in sexual activity or not) must be banned.

They said the Board classifies publications on a case by case basis, in accordance with the Guidelines for the Classification of Publications, the Code and the Classification Act and that the Publications Guidelines do not specify breast size.


2nd February

Update: A Lack of Transparency...

Australian censors refuse to explain how they censor adults depicted as under 18

Last week the Australian Classification Board (ACB) confirmed to Somebody Think Of The Children that a person's overall appearance is used by the Board to determine whether someone appears to look under the age of 18 in a film or publication.

However, the Director of the Australian Classification Board, Donald McDonald, refused to answer repeated questions from this blog about the specifics of breast size in deciding on a person's apparent age. Asked whether breast size was considered by the Board when determining age, McDonald said he had no further comment to make.

Colin Jacobs, Vice Chair of Electronic Frontiers Australia, said the Classification Board has a duty to be transparent with the public about what is being censored and why.

A process as subjective as determining the apparent age of a model is really a very problematic basis for a classification guideline, and this demonstrates it perfectly, he said. We don't blame the Board for enforcing the law, but we do blame them if they aren't forthcoming on how or why they're enforcing it in this case. The only reason censorship is compatible with democracy is that it's transparent.


10th February

Update: Operation Titstorm...

Anonymous fight back against Australia's ludicrous ban on young looking adults in porn

Hacking attacks, dubbed Operation Titstorm , have targeted the websites of Senator Stephen Conroy and the Australian Parliament House, taking them both down with Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) for a period of time.

Anonymous' Operation Titstorm is protesting Australia's upcoming Internet censorship legislation, in particular the proposed banning of images of small-breasted females and female ejaculation, and also claims it will follow up with pornographic emails, spam faxes and prank calls to government offices.

Australia's laws on internet censorship are already among the most restrictive in the western world. Their government filters more internet content than any other Parliamentary Democracy. For some elements within the Government, including Telecommunications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy, this still is not enough. Late in January of 2009 he proposed legislature that would lead to mandatory ISP filtering for all of Australia. The stated goal is to prevent Australia from viewing 'illegal and unwanted content' on the Internet, Anonymous said in an email release to Australian media.

The ambiguity of the term 'unwanted content' is completely unacceptable. No government should have the right to refuse its citizens access to information solely because they perceive it to be 'unwanted'.


11th February

Update: Conroy Down the U Tube...

Google refuses to censor Australia's wide range of banned YouTube videos

Google says it will not voluntarily comply with the government's request that it censor YouTube videos in accordance with broad refused classification (RC) content rules.

As it prepares to introduce legislation within weeks forcing ISPs to block a blacklist of banned RC websites, the government says it is in talks with Google over blocking the same type of material from YouTube.

YouTube's rules already forbid certain videos that would be classified RC, such as sex, violence, bestiality and child pornography. But the RC classification extends further to more controversial content such as information on euthanasia, material about safer drug use and material on how to commit more minor crimes such as painting graffiti.

Google said all of these topics were featured in videos on YouTube and it refused to censor these voluntarily. It said exposing these topics to public debate was vital for democracy.

In an interview with the ABC's Hungry Beast, which aired last night, Conroy said applying ISP filters to high-traffic sites such as YouTube would slow down the internet, so we're currently in discussions with Google about ... how we can work this through . What we're saying is, well in Australia, these are our laws and we'd like you to apply our laws, Conroy said: Google at the moment filters an enormous amount of material on behalf of the Chinese government; they filter an enormous amount of material on behalf of the Thai government.

Google Australia's head of policy, Iarla Flynn, said the company had a bias in favour of freedom of expression in everything it did and Conroy's comparisons between how Australia and China deal with access to information were not helpful or relevant . YouTube has clear policies about what content is not allowed, for example hate speech and pornography, and we enforce these, but we can't give any assurances that we would voluntarily remove all Refused Classification content from YouTube .

The scope of RC is simply too broad and can raise genuine questions about restrictions on access to information. RC includes the grey realms of material instructing in any crime from [painting] graffiti to politically controversial crimes such as euthanasia, and exposing these topics to public debate is vital for democracy.


17th February

Update: Refused Censorship...

Australian Library Association joins in the criticism of internet censorship plan

Australia's strongest critics have been swift and vocal in their condemnation of the filtering, citing concerns over freedom of speech, and referring to the filter as handing control of the internet to the moral minority .

But there still fears among those with more moderate views that the filtering system might be a step too far, with groups such as the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) and the Inspire Foundation claiming that the subjects covered by Refused Classification are too diverse to successfully implement a ban.

And now search giants Google and Yahoo have joined in the call for the Australian government to rethink the controversial plan, making public their submissions to the government's consultation process.


18th February

Offsite: Serial Censorship...

Australian censors ignored by magazine publishers

Twice yearly the Australia's chief censor, Donald McDonald, reports to nutter senators on matters censorial.

This year he highlighted a certain ineffectiveness in the censorship of adult magazines.

Donald McDonald explained:

In estimates hearings senators have expressed concerns about the illegal sale of some adult magazines—concerns shared by the board. Continuing the practice I have described to you in recent hearings, I have called in for classification 440 adult films and 36 adult magazines since July 2009. Unfortunately, none of the publishers of these films and magazines complied with these notices; thus, they have all been referred to relevant state and territory law enforcement agencies for appropriate attention and action. I am not in a position to advise you what actions these agencies may or may not have taken with regard to these referrals.

The board continues to audit adult magazines that are covered by a serial classification declaration, and since July the board has revoked the classification of seven magazines which featured content not permitted in the classification. This revocation also applies to future issues of that publication covered by the declaration. While the board has been conducting rigorous audits since the first serial declarations were granted, our audit schedule will be increased from this year onward to include an audit of every periodical covered by a declaration to ensure that publishers do not abuse the system by including higher level or entirely illegal content.

Since we last met, the board has also given further consideration to the issuing of serial declarations. When deciding whether to issue a serial classification declaration, the board considers, among other things, the classification history of the periodical, statements from the applicant about the content of future issues and how the applicant intends to comply with conditions imposed by the board. Given the recent history of noncompliance by some distributors, the board has been tending to issue shorter serial declarations—up to 12 months, rather than 24 months.

...Read full article


7th March

Update: Category 2 Freedom...

Softcore porn mags banned from sale in Queensland

Brisbane's Sexpo may be celebrating its 10th birthday, but organisers say local residents still don't get a full frontal experience.

Essentially it's knickers on at Sexpo Brisbane, Sexpo general manager Rob Godwin said: One of the biggest challenges in having Sexpo in Queensland is fitting around the legislation.

Queensland has the nation's strictest laws on the sale of adult magazines, meaning the Brisbane show has fewer products on sale than similar shows in Sydney and Melbourne.

While print publications with M+15 restrictions such as Zoo or Penthouse are legal in Queensland, Restricted Category 1 softcore and Category 2 hardcore material is unable to be bought or sold in the state.

Category 1 magazines can be displayed for sale in all other States and Territories when in sealed, opaque wrapping and bought by customers with proof of age; Category 2 magazines may be sold to adults from prescribed, registered or restricted areas.

Godwin said Australian laws on the levels of nudity permissible in adult performances and the ban on X-rated films cost him up to $4 million dollars in potential profits, based on similar sex shows in New Zealand and Germany where X-rated content commonly took up over two thirds of floor space.

Under the Classification of Films Act 1991, the making, display and sale of such objectionable films that, if classified, would carry an X rating carries a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment.

Fiona Patten of Australian Sex Party said: Quite often, when you ban something you create a much higher demand for it. You certainly see that when you look at Australia at large, where we sell more explicit adult films per capita then places like Norway or Denmark where it's all much more legal and relaxed.


5th April

Update: Nutters Free 2B Nutters...

Australian nutters want to ban softcore from corner shops

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.


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