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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 4 Hansard (18 April) . . Page.. 1113 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

What Mr Humphries has proposed in his paper on censorship to bring about a series of new categories would allow, I think, the industry to continue. It would allow people who believe that they gain some pleasure from watching X-rated movies, for example, to be able to do so, to be able to make that decision for themselves without interference.

Mr Speaker, I believe that the debate in this Assembly has always delivered in the end an appropriate outcome in so far as this Assembly has never moved to continue bans on such videos. At the same time we have been careful about where we do draw the line. I think that is what censorship is about. It is not whether or not we will permit a totally free market solution. I do not think anybody here has advocated a completely free market solution. Rather, we look at the range of issues to determine where we should draw the line.

The development of the Internet will provide us with quite new challenges as far as censorship goes. I think our children will be subjected to far less censorship, far less control of publishers and far less control of our media organisations than we have been. Even the forms of indirect censorship that take place are effectively removed by international communication through the Internet. It will be very interesting to see how we cope. It will be very interesting to see how our education systems meet the challenge of teaching our children how to distinguish between what material is of substance and what material is questionable. I think they are going to be real challenges for our education institutions.

With that comes the general challenge of the sorts of issues that we deal with in censorship. What materials are acceptable to a family? What materials are acceptable to adults on their own or consenting adults who agree to deal with these materials? The sorts of solutions that Mr Humphries suggested in his paper, Mr Speaker, are thoughtful. I think the new categories that he has suggested will provide for a very sensible solution as to where we draw the line in our society.

MS FOLLETT (4.27): Mr Speaker, the papers that were tabled by the Attorney-General relate principally to an agreement between the Commonwealth and the States on a new censorship scheme. The aim of the new scheme is to make Australia's censorship laws more uniform and simple. The scheme sets out classification standards and criteria for publications, films and, significantly now, computer games. I think there is an enormous irony in seeing Mr Humphries tabling documents of this kind when we consider just how far the Liberal Party has come in its views on the general issue of censorship, and explicitly sexual material in particular. Mr Speaker, those of us who have been in the Assembly for some time can well remember that it was at one stage Liberal Party policy, and policy enunciated in this Assembly, that such material should be banned. That was often repeated. In fact, it was used as a weapon against Labor, who took a more moderate view, for many years with, of course, the support of Mr Stevenson - the ardent support, I might say.

Mr Speaker, I do welcome the current approach to censorship, and I most certainly welcome a national approach. I believe that it is worth reiterating the underlying philosophy of this national classification scheme. It is actually expressed in a schedule to the National Classification Code. That schedule says:

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