Media Release: 20th January 2010: Canberrans must have a guarantee that South Australian Movie Laws won’t be copied by ACT Assembly, say Democrats.

DARREN CHURCHILL

ACT Democrats President

Media Release: 20th January 2010:

Canberrans must have a guarantee that South Australian Movie Laws won’t be copied by ACT Assembly, say Democrats.

ACT Democrats President, Darren Churchill has called on ACT political leaders to confirm that South Australia’s “plain packaging” laws for R-rated movies will not be mirrored here in the ACT

Recent news reports described South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson’s new laws as coming quietly into effect this week, requiring R-rated movies to be displayed in plain packaging unless they are in an area quarantined from minors.

“The issue is not a matter of availability. R-rated movies are restricted to over 18’s and that should continue. But we need to ensure that a driver’s licence, pub card or passport is provided if the age of the hirer/purchaser is uncertain, the same as for alcohol or cigarettes.” said Mr Churchill

“Quarantining R-rated from minors is one thing. But plain packaging gives them an air of mischievousness and a naughty quality, which makes them more attractive. It’s reminiscent of soft porn magazines having to be sold under the counter and in brown paper bags in Bjelke-Petersen’s Queensland of the 1970s and 1980s.”

“South Australia’s new laws that restrict marketing and display of R18+ material make it more difficult for consumers to access information about media content, by preventing them from seeing posters and DVD covers that could help them make an informed decision about their viewing. Censorship prevents adult Australians making informed decisions. We do not want this sort of ridiculous behaviour mirrored in the ACT!” declared Mr Churchill.

“With South Australia taking knee-jerk action that hides useful information but has no effect on access to the product, it is surely time for a full national review of our classification laws?” queried Mr Churchill. “That includes allowing the states to sell X-rated material and not restricting it to the territories.”

“I often get frustrated with the wowser attitude that wants to stop X-rated movies but allow R-rated movies. Surely, they should be treated the same and sold through over-18 outlets (with appropriate identification), in the same way as cigarettes and alcohol are? Sometimes the strongest opponents of liberal censorship laws for adults are those with the most to hide.” continued Mr Churchill

“Also, like cigarettes, alcohol, gambling (pokies, TAB, casinos) and X-rated products, R-rated products should not be promoted to those who are too young to have legal access, nor be advertised on TV, radio, billboards, sporting ground ads, etc, in places which underage people frequent. But, they should be able to be promoted openly in venues, which are only open to those who can have legal access. That is, no restrictions if all those with access are over age.”

“Censorship for adults is wrong and we oppose it. But we do believe in some level of control of access for young people. What we are proposing is equal treatment of all age-restricted products.”

The ACT Democrats and I have consistently opposed government attempts to control information. The Democrats will continue to speak out for the right and responsibility of all individuals, especially parents, to determine for themselves and their families what is acceptable. The government’s role is to implement widely accepted community standards, not define them to suit particular lobby groups and impose them on the community.” Mr Churchill concluded.

Darren Churchill

President, Australian Democrats (ACT Division)

darren.churchill@act.democrats.org.au

Tel: 0412 196 473

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