ABC television chief Kim Dalton has called on the federal Government to extend Australia's TV content standards to web-based video, a move that would greatly increase government censorship of the internet.
Dalton argues that with more TV being delivered through broadband internet services there is a risk of Australian culture being lost under a tide of cheap-to-access overseas programming. He warns that unless urgent moves are taken, Australian content
could be wiped from the new broadcasting landscape in as little as five or 10 years.
The [Internet] business model here favours cheap, foreign video content and ... online content is putting pressure on established business models.
It is likely that existing regulatory arrangements to deliver local drama, documentaries, comedy, children's, news, current affairs and other programming may have diminishing effects on the market as the existing business models of broadcasters are
challenged and the content offered becomes, increasingly, foreign.
It is time to reassess and reshape the Australian content policy framework .
SHELLSHOCK 2: BLOOD TRAILS is a first-person perspective shooter. The player assumes the role of a soldier fighting in Vietnam against both infected soldiers and the Vietcong army. The game was classified '18' for frequent strong bloody violence and
The violence includes blood spraying when enemies (both human and infected) are shot, and the sight of heads exploding due to a head shot. Blood splatters onto the 'camera lens' frequently as a result of the violence, during both gameplay and cut scenes.
The game also contains moments of gore, such as when soldiers are seen near or post-death, with limbs missing (and occasional spurting blood from the remaining stump). During gameplay the player also encounters a few soldiers slumped with their bodies
having clearly been eviscerated, the organs and rib cage bloodily visible.
The BBFC's Guidelines state that at '15', 'violence may be strong but may not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury'. SHELLSHOCK 2's violence does include such emphasis, and was classified '18' as a result.
BBFC Guidlines for language at '15' allow for 'frequent use of strong language (eg 'fuck')' and ensure that the language in the game is comfortably acceptable at the '18' category.
Eros, Australia’s national adult retail association, has called the ban on hardcore porn enacted a year ago in the heavily-Aboriginal Northern Territories divisive.
Eros CEO Fiona Patten said that after a year, the bans on sexually explicit but non-violent adult material could not be shown to have done anything to stop the sexual abuse of children and simply stood as yet another issue dividing Aboriginal Australians
from the rest of the community.
With the benefit of hindsight, these bans now simply say that Europeans can handle depictions of nonviolent, explicit sex, but indigenous Australians can’t, Patten said: It’s an insult and is not sustainable through any verifiable procedure or
Patten said that Eros initially committed to support the bans as long as the Northern Territories introduced regulations for the sale of adult films, similar to the Capital Territories. Possession of adult films is legal nationwide, but the sale of adult
films is legal only in the Northern Territories and Capital Territory.
Eros has advocated uniform rules for porn sales throughout Australia.
British chef Gordon Ramsay has sparked a recommendation to lock-out programs with swearing, and to redefine ratings in Australia.
The British chef, known for his often potty-mouthed approach to work, swore about 80 times during a 40-minute program aired in Australia.
A Liberal MP now wants a parental lock-out system installed on all digital TVs sold in the future, allowing parents to block-out the swearing comment.
I say this not because I believe in censorship... BUT... because I believe strongly that what we broadcast on our televisions has a profound impact on how we conduct ourselves over a period of time, Senator Cory Bernardi said.
However a committee disagreed, saying that swearing was a natural part of growing up and it was up to parents to educate their children.
The committee does not believe it is appropriate to make any recommendation with regard to imposing additional limits [on] the use of the words 'f---' or 'c---' on Australian television, beyond the requirements of the current classification system,
the report said.
The Nine Network has now promised that any reference to the word "cunt" would be blocked out altogether.
An arts body will produce a censorship guide to clarify the laws about artistic freedom of expression. The National Association for the Visual Arts said yesterday it would develop a guide to better educate artists about the moral and legal limitations of
The move follows the recent uproar over photographer Bill Henson's use of nude children as models.
The guide will consider ethical issues, rights and responsibilities, explain the law, advise about public exposure of sensitive material and the most effective way to deal with complaints.
The National Gallery of Victoria's chairman, Allan Myers, said that while producing a guide was "sensible", it would be difficult to define the moral and legal limitations facing artists: That's why it's best to err on the side of freedom, I
Australian Broadband providers Internode and iiNet have hit out against the Federal government's ISP-level content filtering initiative — a scheme that could cripple Australia's high-speed internet access, according to one exec.
Mandatory filtering, one of Kevin Rudd's election promises, is set to move the emphasis from parents onto ISPs to remove "inappropriate content" from Australians' internet experience with potential software filters currently being trialled by
The regulator is expected to file its report on the filter tests with Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy by the end of this month, after the Federal government pledged a one-off AU$125.8 million subsidy for ISPs to install the required
equipment as part of this year's budget.
The plan has already attracted its critics. Security experts recently called government filters to block malware — rather than the "inappropriate content" currently targeted — a suggestion backed by ISP Internode. John Lindsay, Internode
carrier relations manager said: We support the government's desire to keep kids safe on the internet and certainly from any type of exploitation, but we don't support the government crippling high-speed broadband services which they say are so
essential to the development of our economy.
He also said he was intrigued the government seems so confident that users will be happy to have their access slowed down to allow for filtering they don't want. Some of the things the government could mandate are simply not technically
feasible, some could be highly disruptive to users, some could be simply ineffective at blocking access to certain content. What you end up with is everybody being dissatisfied with the filter.
Thursday 12th June 2008, 6-8pm
Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA)
140 George Street
Open to the public. Entry by donation (donations to cover costs of holding the forum).
The evening's proceedings will be introduced by Margaret Pomeranz, ABC TV film critic and President of Watch on Censorship. The discussions will be chaired by David Marr, lawyer, writer and journalist and Vice President of Watch on Censorship.
Ian Howard is an artist, Dean of the College of Fine Arts, University of NSW and Chair of the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA). He will provide an artist's perspective about his experience in testing the boundaries in relation to
militarism and national security, self censorship, and the vagaries of audience interpretation.
Gallery speaker (TBC), will offer the gallery perspective on art censorship discussing galleries as 'special' places, curatorial decision-making, dealing with sensitive subject matter, and dealing with complaints and threats.
Hetty Johnston, is Executive Director and founder of Bravehearts Inc. which aims to engender child sexual assault prevention and protection strategies, advocate for understanding, promote increased education and research, and provide healing and support.
Ms Johnston will give her views on the boundaries of public tolerance in relation to art and protection of the child.
Julian Burnside QC, is a barrister, writer and President of Liberty Victoria, has acted pro bono in many human rights cases and is passionate about the arts. He will elaborate the law in relation to art censorship and how it is exercised, including the
complexities of 'intention', 'context', 'reasonableness', public attitudes, protecting human rights and freedom of expression.
Clive Hamilton, is a prolific writer and public commentator and immediate past Executive Director of The Australia Institute. He will comment on community standards and public moral codes, and the limits to freedom of expression.
Australian police will not prosecute one of Australia's leading artists for pornography following an investigation into an art exhibition that included photographs of naked children.
They announced today that they would not file charges after Australia's Classification Board, which rates films, videos, exhibitions and books, declared the images "mild and justified".
New South Wales Police said on Friday they had been advised by the director of public prosecutions there was no reasonable prospect of a successful conviction.
Matters involving the law and art are notoriously difficult and that is why police sought this advice, police commander Catherine Burn said in a statement: The advice given to us is that a successful prosecution was unlikely.
Update: Invitation Only
12th June 2008
Bill Henson's controversial photography exhibition went on display in Sydney last night. Three weeks after its original launch date, the Henson exhibition at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery in inner Sydney opened its doors to invited collectors only.
A gallery spokesman said the exhibition included those images confiscated by police on May 22 following complaints about photographs of naked children.
An art gallery forced to remove pictures of naked girls by photographer Bill Henson says it will re-exhibit them in the future now that the Classification Board has rated his most contentious work as PG.
The Classification Board has ruled that a photograph of a naked girl, which Henson included on an invitation to his exhibition at the Roslyn Oxley9 gallery in Sydney, was "mild'' and safe for many children to view.
The picture, which kicked off the controversy surrounding the well-known artist's work, was deemed to be not sexualised to any degree and the image of breast nudity ... creates a viewing impact that is mild and justified by context.
An Albury Regional Art Gallery spokesman said the Henson works would not go back up immediately because the exhibition they were part of had finished.
They were part of a show called Proof of Age. That show was scheduled to finish last Friday, the spokesman said. He believed that the pictures would be back on the wall now if the Proof of Age exhibition was still running: I think they probably
would in light of what's happened with the board and I think they will go up again because they are part of our collection .
Child welfare advocate Hetty Johnston, who made the original complaints to police about the Henson exhibition which resulted in works being seized, labelled the ruling "incomprehensible''.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said he stands by his views that the Henson pictures were "absolutely revolting" but they should be independent of the law: I ... said what my views are as a parent, I don't budge from that. But I'm not about to go
around and start dictating to the legal authorities what they should or should not do . Organisations like that are at arm's length from politicians. It's a matter for those bodies independently, including the legal authorities, to evaluate these
matters and reach their own determination.
A bar in Melbourne has weighed into the controversial issue of child nudity in art by hosting an exhibition featuring photographs of naked children.
About 80 people turned up to an exhibition of 40 nude photographs of two 11-year-old boys held last night at the Loop Bar, an art space and bar in Melbourne’s CBD.
A spokesperson for the venue said two plain-clothed police officers attended the exhibition but did not see an issue with any of the work.
There were no problems in the end. We did it because we are a project art space and we like people to exhibit what they want to exhibit as long as the work meets certain guidelines , the spokesperson said.
Offsite: Growing condemnation of censorship of Australian artist Bill Henson
The unprecedented censorship of Bill Henson’s work and threats of child pornography charges against the widely-respected artist/photographer and the Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery on May 22 sent shock waves through Australia’s artistic community. Although artists
faced growing attacks on freedom of expression under the former Howard government, few were prepared for the latest assault and its encouragement by Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma.
A day after the raid Rudd told national television that Henson’s work was “absolutely revolting” and later declared that the law should take its course. Encouraged by these inflammatory remarks, police in New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian
Capital Territory widened their censorship operations and demanded that galleries and Internet sites take down Henson’s work or face prosecution under child pornography laws.
This assault on basic democratic rights has produced a wave of anger. Letters to the editor columns and Internet blogs of the corporate media have been swamped with protests. These include comments from artists, writers, former Henson models, victims of
sexual abuse and even a former NSW police superintendent, defending Henson, denouncing the use of police and attacking Labor’s encouragement of this assault on basic democratic rights
Police will attend an exhibition of nude photographs of 11-year-old boys which a Melbourne artist is staging tonight in Melbourne's CBD.
The artist, Victoria Larielle, says the exhibition is a protest at censorship of photographer Bill Henson's work: I felt really upset Bill has been persecuted so much by the Government and Australian people that don't understand art, perhaps,
Thirty to 40 images of two boys, now 17, will be displayed at Ms Larielle's exhibition, titled I am not a Pornographer, nor a Pedophile, but an Artist.
A Victoria Police spokeswoman said police would attend to "look into" the exhibition, but what they had seen so far had given them no reason for concern.
The photos, taken in 2001, will be displayed at The Loop bar tonight.
Images declared "absolutely revolting" by the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, at the height of the Bill Henson controversy have been cleared for general release.
Late last week the Classification Board swiftly assessed five Henson images taken from media websites and rated them all "G" or "very mild". Some or all of the images are partly censored with black bars covering nipples and genitals.
The assessment followed a complaint about images on media websites after NSW police closed his Sydney exhibition on May 23. The main complaint is said to involve a slide show of seized photographs on The Daily Telegraph's website.
Last Thursday, the Minister for Home Affairs, Bob Debus, said images from media websites has been referred to the Classification Board. They were cleared the same day. An internet censorship expert Irene Graham told the Herald: The fact that the
Classification Board has become involved in this and then worked so quickly to reach its verdict is a sign of just how politically sensitive the Henson issue has become.
The Henson complaint is the first to be cleared absolutely by the board, which is is expected to release a full report on each of the five images today.
Rudd has also assessed the photos on the basis of images partly obscured with bars.
Uncensored Henson images are also being investigated by the authority following police complaints about the original photographs on the Roslyn Oxley9 gallery website. That website is hosted on a foreign server.
Australian police, encouraged by ongoing denunciations of artist/photographer Bill Henson by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, New South Wales
(NSW) Premier Morris Iemma and a small group of right-wing commentators, have ramped up their witch-hunt of the internationally-acclaimed artist following the seizure of 20 of his photographs from a Sydney art gallery last week.
NSW police are currently threatening Henson and the Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery owners with prosecution under a recently introduced section of the NSW Crimes Act, which covers the production, dissemination and possession of child pornography. If found guilty,
the artist could be jailed for a maximum of 10 years and the gallery owners for five years. The accusation of child pornography against Henson, who is represented in major galleries around the world, is ludicrous.
Henson has more than 250 photographs in state-funded Australian galleries. However, since Prime Minister Rudd'
s declaration on national television that the artist/photographer'
s work was “absolutely revolting”, the police have begun visiting local venues to intimidate curators and dictate what they can or cannot display.
NSW police officers told the Albury Regional Gallery that unless it took down several Henson photographs and removed images from its web site, it could be prosecuted. Three days later police raided Newcastle Regional Art Gallery and “advised” management
to take down some Henson photographs—one of which was in a staff room and not even on public display.
Police have also visited Melbourne'
s National Gallery of Victoria and the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra. Although no photos were removed from these prestigious galleries, the purpose of the visit was clear. National Gallery of Australia director Ron Radford was questioned by
police over the gallery'
s collection of 79 Henson photographs, despite the fact that the pictures were all in storage.
If we determine there are offences disclosed, then we will go through the process of seizing whatever needs to be seized in order to prove the offence, a police spokesperson told the media. If you'
re in possession of child pornography, whether you have it on your computer and whether you view it or not, that'
s an offence.
Online media outlets reporting the witch-hunt and using digital versions of Henson'
s photographs could also be prosecuted after they were referred this week to the federal censorship authorities by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, which investigates complaints about internet content. In this coercive atmosphere, the
publishers of Art World, a new art magazine, were forced to pulp 25,000 copies of its June-July issue. The magazine featured a cover story on Henson and contained photos of the naked girl that prompted the police raid of the Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery. The
survival of the bimonthly magazine, which only began publishing three months ago, has been jeopardised by the additional $100,000 required to reprint the edition.
Artists challenge Rudd
Not a single elected Labor politician—state or federal—has opposed this escalating assault. On the contrary, appeals by leading members of the artistic community—many of whom had been recent supporters of Rudd—have been arrogantly rejected by the Labor
government and attacked by radio shock-jocks and a collection of thuggish media commentators.
On May 27, for example, actor Cate Blanchett and 42 other leading writers, dramatists, filmmakers, musicians and artists issued an open letter to the prime minister. The letter rejected allegations that Henson'
s work was child pornography and called on Rudd and Premier Iemma to “rethink” their previous comments.
The courts, the letter declared, were not the “proper place” to debate the merit of Henson'
s work. If those demanding charges against the artist were not pushed back there would be further attacks, which would, in turn, encourage a repressive climate of hysterical condemnation, backed by the threat of prosecution.
We are already seeing troubling signs in the pre-emptive self-censorship of some galleries, it continued. This is not the hallmark of an open democracy nor of a decent or civilised society. We should remember that an important index of social
freedom, in earlier times or in repressive regimes elsewhere in the world, is how artists and art are treated by the state.
The letter called on the Minister for Arts and former Midnight Oil rock singer Peter Garrett to stand up for artists against the encroaching censorship, which has resulted in the closure of this and other exhibitions.
Rudd arrogantly dismissed the appeal a day after it was published and told the media that his opinion about Henson'
s photographs was unchanged . The issue, he continued, would be decided through the legal processes of the land.
Not surprisingly, arts minister Garrett simply ignored the open letter. On the same day, NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione, echoing Rudd, told a Sydney radio station that Henson'
s photographs were “offensive” and “objectionable” and fully endorsed their seizure by his officers. And on May 29, Rupert Murdoch'
s Australian newspaper published a letter from so-called child protection activist Hetty Johnson, declaring that she was “committed” to bringing Henson and the gallery owners to trial.
Extreme right demands more attacks
Right-wing commentators are now celebrating Rudd'
s denunciations of Henson and fulminating against anyone who comes forward to defend freedom of artistic expression. Those challenging the censorship are accused of supporting or providing sustenance to pedophiles.
This was spelled out in an op-ed piece in the Sydney Morning Herald, by columnist Paul Sheehan on May 26. Under the headline, Artists crying out for martyrdom, he declared that Australia'
s artistic community was the equivalent of a claustrophobic, reactionary one-party state,” which was providing sustenance to “pederasts and child sexploiters.
Sheehan suggested, however, that the issue was broader and that the real problem was Australia'
s privacy laws, artistic licence, freedom of expression, and Aboriginal rights , which, he said, were helping to mask, exacerbate or even rationalize, child sex abuse. He concluded with a threat: while the Bill Henson exhibition may be
the wrong time and wrong place for this particular battle ... it is the right time and right place to reinvigorate this particular war.
In other words, the war on fundamental democratic rights should not be confined to Henson.
s rhetoric is chillingly reminiscent of the language and anti-democratic measures that led to the Nazi book burnings and the Nazis'
characterisation of virtually all modernist art as Entartete Kunst or Degenerate Art. The fact that it is published unchallenged in what passes as Sydney'
s “small l”-liberal daily, and encouraged by the Rudd government'
s endorsement of the current witch-hunt, should be taken a serious warning to artists, intellectuals and all working people.
Rudd and the rest of the Labor leadership have seized on the Henson issue as a diversion from mounting social tensions resulting from the rapid rise in the cost of living and growing hostility—just six months after its election—to the Labor government.
Like the Howard government before it, Rudd Labor is trying to develop a political constituency among the extreme right, Christian fundamentalists and other disoriented layers to use as a means of intimidating and suppressing critical thought, as it ramps
up its assault on the social conditions of the working class.
Online photographs used by media websites to report the investigation into Bill Henson have been referred to the Classification Board,
the Minister for Home Affairs, Bob Debus, said.
Canberra police were also assessing 79 Henson photographs at the National Gallery of Australia, some of which were seized as the investigation into the artist widened and owners of works, including Parliament House, were questioned by phone.
Several online images of Bill Henson photographs from media websites reporting on the exhibition at the Roslyn Oxley9 gallery in Sydney have been referred to the Classification Board, Debus said.
The images were referred to the board by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, which investigates complaints about online content.
They do not involve content published online by the Oxley gallery as the gallery voluntarily removed images from its website last week, Debus said. He would not name the news sites.
While several Canberra galleries have been investigated, only the National Gallery had Henson photos featuring naked children. The National Portrait Gallery in Canberra owns three Henson works.
Australia's Imparja Television has decided to ban advertisements for x-rated chat-lines.
Outgoing chairman Owen Cole says the local community has expressed concern about the advertisements. It seemed a logical decision, given the problems faced by remote Indigenous communities.
He says the broadcaster was making a statement by giving up revenue from the sexually explicit advertisements: Now the effectiveness of whether it's going to stop people from downloading pornography, that's questionable, but nevertheless sometimes you
have to take a principle stance and that's what we've done.
Cole is calling on the Federal Government to take a more pro-active role in raising public awareness about the effects of pornography, domestic violence and sexual abuse in communities.
The debate over photographer Bill Henson's controversial pictures of nude 12- and 13-year-olds continues in Australia.
Cate Blanchett, along with Elizabeth Ann Macgregor, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, and writer Larissa Behrendt, has signed an open letter to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd urging him to rethink his stance on the photographs, which he
called "absolutely revolting."
The open letter argues that Henson's work itself is not pornographic, even though it includes depictions of naked human beings. It is more justly seen in a tradition of the nude in art that stretches back to the ancient Greeks, and which includes
painters such as Caravaggio and Michelangelo.
Blanchett joined 42 other leading arts figures in signing the open letter slamming Rudd.
A number of Henson's former models have also stepped forward to voice support for the photographer via the Sydney Morning Herald.
High-profile Opposition frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull has spoken out in defence of artistic freedom after revealing that he owns works
by controversial photographer Bill Henson.
The Opposition treasury spokesman say he has two of the artist's photographs - one depicting a face in profile and the other of a sunset.
New South Wales police are considering laying charges against Henson after they raided a Sydney exhibition of his work, which included a photograph of a naked 13-year-old girl.
Turnbull says he has not seen the controversial photographs but says artists should be able to express themselves freely: I don't believe that we should have policemen invading art galleries. I think we have a culture of great artistic freedom
in this country.
We've got to be very careful. Freedom is a very precious thing. And before we have policemen tramping through art galleries, tramping through libraries, going into newspapers offices, we've got to think, freedom is what makes this country great. That
is what enables us to be the type of nation we are.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has described the photographs as absolutely revolting but Greens Senator Bob Brown says Rudd does not understand art.
Senator Brown has compared the furore to censorship in Soviet Russia: I think the Prime Minister and others have overreacted and have not been very judicious in their use of words or their understanding of creative art and what it gives to society.
You have to wonder whether the next thing is we're going to have people pointing out children on the beach who aren't fully clad and having that forbidden on beaches."
Betty Churcher, former director of the National Gallery of Australia, says debate sparked by a Bill Henson exhibition is misguided.
Twenty of Henson's photographs, featuring a naked girl under the age of 16, were confiscated during a police raid on Sydney's Roslyn Oxley9 gallery late last week.
Police are considering whether to lay criminal charges against those involved with the exhibition, which was condemned by many - including Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
But Ms Churcher has defended Henson's shots, saying they are works of art and depict a sense of innocence: There is absolutely no suggestion of pornography in these photographs. They are breathtakingly beautiful, they are about the vulnerability of
Police said they expect to file charges over a Sydney art exhibition that the Australian prime minister called revolting for its
portrayal of nude 12- and 13-year-old children.
The exhibit by leading Australian photographer Bill Henson was suspended by police just ahead of its scheduled opening Thursday night, following public outrage.
Police removed more than 20 photographs from the Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery on Friday.
Police are investigating this matter and it is likely that we will proceed to prosecution on the offense of publishing an indecent article under the Crimes Act, said Local Area Commander Allan Sicard. He would not specify who was likely to be
Henson and the gallery agreed Thursday to temporarily suspend the show to allow investigators to speak to the children and their parents, police said. Henson's exhibition consisted of 41 photographs.
The Web site for the gallery went off-line to remove the photos. It was back online Friday afternoon, with a statement saying the exhibition will reopen without the controversial images.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd weighed in on the issue during a morning interview on Nine Network television: I find them absolutely revolting, he said when showed the photographs: Whatever the artistic view of the merits of that sort of stuff —
frankly I don't think there are any — just allow kids to be kids.
Henson's work is on display in all of Australia's major art galleries and also forms part of collections in New York's Guggenheim Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris and other venues.
Public pressure has forced a Sydney gallery to cancel the opening night of an exhibition featuring photographs of naked 12 and 13 year
The exhibition, by Australian photographer Bill Henson, was scheduled to open at Roslyn Oxley9 gallery.
However, a note on the door advised patrons the official opening would not go ahead.
A gallery spokeswoman told AAP the exhibition would proceed, but public criticism of tonight's event forced organisers to cancel the official opening.
Police tonight said an investigation into the exhibition was in its early stages.
Hetty Johnston, founder and executive director of Bravehearts, a child sexual assault action group, today called for Henson and the gallery to be prosecuted over the images.
The gallery's website had also featured the images from the exhibition, and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) confirmed it had received a formal complaint and are investigating. The images have now been removed from the website.
Earlier this month, there was another 'outrage' following the publication of images showing a topless 16-year-old model sharing a bath with a 15-year-old male model in Russh Australia magazine.
The Classification Board ruled the magazine was not a submittable publication and therefore does not need to be classified.
Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) has expressed its disappointment at the Federal Government'
s decision to fund its mandatory “clean-feed” Internet in the 2008-09 federal budget.
At a time when the Government is cutting services to fight inflation, it'
s bewildering that they would decide to spend tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on a filter before feasibility trials are even complete, said EFA spokesman Colin Jacobs: Given the manifest impracticality of the clean-feed scheme, I'
m sure this money could have been put to much better use.
The 2008-09 budget allocates $24.3 million to the Government'
s “cyber-safety” initiative, with the number to rise to $51.4m in the 2009-10 financial year. A media release from the Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, confirmed that the clean-feed remains a budgetary priority for the Government. Some
funding will come from the Government'
s now-defunct NetAlert filter scheme, which made PC-based software filters available for free to all Australian homes. Funding will be redirected to support ISPs making available a filtered internet service, or ‘clean feed'
, to all homes, schools and public internet points accessible to children, said the Minister.
Australians are very uncomfortable with the idea of having the Government decide what'
s appropriate for them and their families, said Jacobs. In fact, in a survey of 18,000 Internet users, only 13% agreed with the policy. That'
s why we feel it is a shame, when the Government has identified real needs for better education and policing, that their approach to Internet policy is so skewed towards the filter initiative. There are greater risks to Australian children online, and
real steps can be taken to mitigate these risks. That'
s where the funding should be going.
s announcement will undoubtedly rekindle concerns amongst the Internet industry about the priority the national filter has been given, and the effect this will have on data services in Australia.
EFA has launched a web site to highlight the concerns and educate Internet users about the Government'
s plans, at http://nocleanfeed.com
Adultshop.com has lost a legal challenge to Australia's film classification system after arguing that most adults are no longer offended by seeing actual sex in movies.
The Federal Court today dismissed an appeal by Adultshop.com against an X rating given to the adult film Viva Erotica .
Adultshop.com had been fighting a legal battle for the movie to be given an R18+ rating, following a 2006 decision by the Classification Review Board to give Viva Erotica the more restrictive X18+ rating.
The application by Adultshop.com for a review of the board's decision was unsuccessful and in November last year Federal Court Judge Peter Jacobson upheld the board's ruling.
Today the full bench of the Federal Court dismissed Adultshop.com's appeal against Justice Jacobson's judgment.
In its appeals, Adultshop.com argued the guidelines for the classifications of films were invalid because they failed to properly consider whether most adults would be offended by Viva Erotica
Adultshop.com argued that community standards have changed and that most reasonable adults would not be offended by the depictions of actual sex in Viva Erotica , which had led to its X-rating, rather than simulated sex.
But the court today ruled there were no inconsistencies in the guidelines and they were still broadly representative of current community standards.
Adultshop.com's managing director Malcolm Day said the Office of Film and Literature Classification should commission new research into community views and update the guidelines. He said governments were imposing their own "puritan' views on all
Australians: The guidelines are simply a reflection of the conservative, subjective views of the (state and federal) attorney generals .
Adultshop.com is considering an appeal to the High Court.
from a comparison of the Australian version and the UK version:
Firstly, when picking up a hooker in the Australian version you'
ll notice that you'
re unable to select your services (i.e. hand job, blowjob or standard intercourse) and the sex animations for these services have been completely removed. You'
ll merely see the car bounce from a locked rear-view. Although there are glitches one can perform to get a front view of the action, the animations are still non-existent. Therefore as in previous GTA games you'
re only able to see the hooker and Niko sitting side by side doing absolutely nothing. In the uncut version you'
re able to select your services after driving a hooker to a secluded location by cycling through the three different services. For which ever you choose the hooker will begin performing the act on Niko and you'
re be able to rotate the camera to see the action as you see fit.
Secondly, in the Australian version no blood pools appear beneath a dead person after shooting or stabbing them to death. Although there are blood splatters, there are no blood pools. In the uncut version blood will slowly ooze out from under a body and
re able to create bloody footprints by walking through it or bloody tire-tracks by driving through it.
Finally, when Niko or other NPCs are injured in the uncut version light blood patches appear on their bodies which basically represent bruises/bullet wounds. After having played through both versions of the game I can confirm that no other alterations
have been made. Although the changes to the sex scenes come as no surprise one must wonder why Rockstar censored blood pools and body injuries. These elements are present in numerous other games which have been released totally uncut in Australia.
Australia's Catholic church has taken a swipe at foul-mouthed British chef Gordon Ramsay and demanded his reality television shows be either taken off air or shown at a later time.
The move comes as Australia's Parliament holds an inquiry into swearing on television, prompted by Ramsay's antics in his series Kitchen Nightmares and Hell's Kitchen.
One episode broadcast recently featured Ramsay using a four-letter expletive more than 80 times, while he also shouts at a chef saying: You French pig.
There can be no excuse for vilification of this sort. We conclude that this episode should never have been aired on Australian television, the Catholic church in the southern city of Adelaide said in a submission to the parliamentary inquiry.
Ramsay's reality programmes are popular ratings drawcards in Australia, but they have also prompted complaints from schools and parent groups who are angry that the shows are broadcast at times when children may be watching television.
Two of the Ramsay programmes air at 8.30pm, while one of the shows, Hell's Kitchen, where contestants compete to win a restaurant, is aired at a later 9.30pm time slot.
Conservative Senator Cory Bernardi initiated a Senate inquiry into swearing after his office received several complaints about Ramsay's programmes.
The inquiry has received more than 50 public submissions, with the overwhelming majority in favour of tighter regulation and calling for the Nine television network, which broadcasts the programmes, to censor Ramsay.
But the Council for Civil Liberties in Australia's largest state of New South Wales said it has no problems with Ramsay's programmes, which regularly attract more than one million viewers: This inquiry is yet another attempt to restrict the freedom of
expression of ordinary Australians. Not everyone is offended by coarse language .
The Australian censored version of Grand Theft Auto IV doesn't show player sex, though the act remains implied with "car rocking" visuals and potty mouth dialogue.
According to GameSpot, in Australian versions of GTA IV, Niko can indeed pick up prostitutes, but once he takes said sex worker to a secluded area, the game camera shifts to a tight shot of the rear of the vehicle the pair are in and cannot be moved.
Prostitution upgrades resulting in superior player health have also been removed from the Australian version.
The US and international versions of GTA IV take the implied sexual act a step further, however, by showing fully clothed dry humping (also called frottage) scenes that simulate the motions of intercourse. There is no nudity in the Mature rated
game, however, only scantily clad women.
As an alternative to traditional food power ups found in video games, Grand Theft Auto III introduced the concept of prostitution power-ups back in 2001.
New South Wales police have raided a number of adult shops in Sydney's Blacktown and St Marys over the last week, ostensibly
looking for X18+ videos and DVDs.
It is illegal to sell films that have been classified X18+ by the Federal government, in NSW. Most people do not know that non-violent, sexually explicit films showing consenting adults, are illegal to sell in NSW or any of the Australian states for that
It is estimated that up to 50 police officers spent at least 10 hours each performing these raids and that at least another 200 police hours will be spent on classifying and processing the thousands of DVDs that were seized. Approximately 30 robberies
and a dozen assaults would have taken place in the Blacktown and St Mary'
s precincts during the time that these raids were enacted.
Mostly this is not the fault of the police. It'
s the fault of the state government who would rather that they spend unnecessary amounts of time policing morality - like censorship breaches. What makes this situation worse is that many of the police raids are carried out at the request of the federal
s Censorship Board. The very same organisation that classifies X18+ films as OK for adults at a federal level.
s Community Liaison Officer, Ron Robertson, is supposed to go around and visit retailers and inform them if they are selling material outside of the law. Instead, he now takes it upon himself to encourage state police to waste their time busting adult
retailers for selling x18+ films that his own Board has classified! If this sounds like bureaucracy gone mad, you'
re right. The NSW Attorney General should get out and about and talk to a few of the 30% of the state'
s adults who regularly buy and watch X18+ films. And the Federal censorship Minister, ( former NSW Attorney General) Bob Debus, needs to have a serious talk to all state Attorneys about the massive waste of police resources in each state on policing the
sale of adult films.
Australian parenting and education experts have savaged the release of a new video game based on schoolyard bullying, which features animated blood and violence, sexual themes, crude language, and alcohol and tobacco use.
Bully: Scholarship Edition pits schoolchildren at a fictitious boarding school against one another in a violent struggle for control of the campus.
The game's rating is listed on an Australian government classification website as M, meaning it does not carry the age restriction attached to the higher MA15+ rating.
Parenting Australia chief executive Jane King described the game as "disturbing" and said it should never have been released: It's scary, it's outrageous, it's gross . I do think the classification system needs to be reviewed. I would
be very concerned if my 13-year-old son played a game like that. I think the message of solving violence with violence is extremely disturbing. Ms King encouraged parents not to buy the game.
Australian Education Union president Angelo Gavrielatos said teachers worldwide were vehemently opposed to the game and the union had joined a coalition of eight teacher organisations from countries such as South Korea, the United States and Britain
denouncing its release: What we are concerned about is the continuing production and development of such games that glorify violence and bullying. There's a point where the corporate world must take some responsibility to regulate these games. In a
world where the issues of bullying and violence are a concern, the production of these games is not acceptable.
A spokeswoman for the Australian Classification Board said the game was approved because the themes were: moderate in playing and viewing and were justified by context. During the game the player is not encouraged to attack innocent bystanders or
undertake acts of bullying and is not rewarded for doing so. The missions players undertake are generally about thwarting acts of bullying, exploitation or discrimination. If the player does bully another player out of context a punishment type
bar increases and when full it causes the character to be apprehended by authority figures.
Analyst and gamer John Greentree said critics of Bully: Scholarship Edition might change their tune if they played the game. The purpose of the game is not to be a bully but survive a school that is full of bullies. The point of the game is to
show that all groups are capable of being bullies and bullied. It's pathetic that your scare-mongering will actually scare people away from this sort of game that actually has real lessons.
The Australian censor has issued a report on its decision to award a MA15+ rating for a pre-cut version of Grand Theft Auto IV.
The report does not identify what was pre-cut though. [Also Spoiler Warning!]:
Violence is relatively frequent and strong in playing impact.
During the game, the player (as lead character Niko Bellic) is required to undertake various missions, mostly involving criminal activity, in order to develop contacts, make money and protect his cousin Roman. These include pick-ups and drop-offs,
killing / protecting various people, stealing, racing, chasing, eating, drinking, going out and dating. A number of tasks involve drugs (for example retrieving a stash of cocaine for a dealer) and violence (for example, rescuing Roman from a kidnapper).
Violence includes hand to hand combat (basic punching and kicking) and more regularly involves use of various weapons. These include knives, baseball bats, a nightstick, pistols, machine guns, shot guns, rifles, grenades and rocket launchers. The player
is able to use these weapons to inflict injury on other participants which results in frequent blood spray. Blood spray occurs as victims are attacked and is also depicted on objects such as floors and walls. Blood pooling occurs under bodies that are
shot at after death however no post mortem damage (such as decapitation or dismemberment) is possible. These is also infrequent blood splatter on the camera lens as the player manoeuvres their way through missions involving killing.
A less frequent example of violence includes the ability of the player to set an enemy alight causing them to burn. The victim is shown flailing and on fire before they fall to the ground. Bodies remain as long as the player lingers in a particular
scene, however after this, they disappear.
As the violence is relatively frequent, causing blood spray and injury detail, the impact is strong.
Coarse language is frequent. Aggressive and/or strong coarse language is infrequent.
During the game play the characters are heard to use "fuck" language, primarily in a naturalistic tone but occasionally in an aggressive manner. This, coupled with the infrequent use of the word "cunt" (as well as some visual use
written on a strip club wall) creates an impact which is strong.
OTHER MATTERS CONSIDERED
In the majority view of the board the game contains drug and sexual references, which although moderate in impact, warrant flagging at the MA15+ classification.
These include a scene (with no player interaction) where a drug dealer is depicted implicitly, then explicitly, snorting lines of white powder (implied to be cocaine) from a table and the involvement of Niko in various missions dealing with drugs.
Further, there are sexual references which require flagging at the MA15+ classification. These include a scene (with no player interaction) at the beginning of the game depicting a woman in lingerie whipping a man in his underwear, tied to a bed and the
general ability of the player to go on 'dates' and have sex with a 'girlfriend', to pick up a prostitute and have sex with her and the ability to attend a strip club and pay for a lap dance.
Australian Channel has received nine official complaints from the 1.25 million viewers who tuned each week into its gangland war series Underbelly .
But the network will still be investigated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority after a religious group alleged the show breached its 8.30pm M classification.
An ACMA spokesman confirmed Nine would be investigated after the South Australian branch of Christian group Festival of Light lodged a complaint.
Under the rules, viewers must first lodge a complaint with the networks, and if they are dissatisfied with the response in 30 days they can take it to ACMA, which is then obliged to act.
Nine's chief censorship officer Richard Lyle said the network would mount a strong defence and maintained the show fit within the strict ACMA guidelines: The sex scenes and language must be appropriate, but the fact is Underbelly is not fiction and it
honestly portrays how they behaved and were able to get away with what they did .
The ACMA spokesman said the investigation would take three to four months, by which time the 13-part series would have finished.
Senator Steve Fielding is obsessed with pornography. His greatest direct contribution to public policy since he was "elected" was to badger the Howard Government into wasting tens of millions of dollars on the ludicrous Netalert internet filter
Now he has managed to impose the views of his bizarre monotheistic cult on other Senators and their staff. Since 28 March, Senators have been prevented from accessing "inappropriate" internet content at the request of Senator Fielding, who has
convinced Senate President Alan Ferguson to impose the same filter as that in place for bureaucrats.
Accordingly, anything related to sex, drugs, weapons or other "inappropriate content", regardless of what it actually is, is blocked.
Senator Lyn Allison has written to Ferguson demanding to know why Fielding was permitted to impose his own reactionary view of the online world on other Senators, who determines what is "inappropriate" and how Senators are supposed to do their
Allison reels off a number of topics now blocked by the Fielding Filth Filter: reproductive health; sexualisation of children; drug abuse and rehabilitation, the opium crop in Afghanistan, weapons trading – all issues of legitimate interest to those
engaged in the policy process, and all now blocked as "inappropriate".
The year's most highly-anticipated video game, Grand Theft Auto IV , hits stores on April 29 but many Australian gamers have cancelled their orders.
Already angered by the price of the blockbuster in Australia - $120 compared to $64 in North America - gamers have reacted with outrage to news that developer Rockstar has edited the game for Australia in order to obtain an MA15+ rating.
Many gamers said they cancelled their orders with Australian shops and will import a cheaper, uncut version, flouting the law.
A Rockstar spokesman says a censored version of GTA IV was developed to comply with the Australian classification system, which does not have an R18+ rating. The spokesman declined to reveal what was cut. [There
have been unlikely sounding rumours that the game is cut to remove an object being rammed up somebody's arse]
A federal Labor MP has called on the Australian Government to follow France's lead and ban pro-anorexia websites.
Anna Burke said she had been calling for ban on anorexia websites for some time: It's something we really need to explore. This is dangerous information on the internet.
The Government is developing a cyber-safety policy that includes internet service provider filtering for all Australian homes, schools and public computers, but there is no indication that pro-anorexia sites would be included in the "black
list" created by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
Nicola Roxon, the federal Minister for Health and Ageing, said the Government would consider whether any action regarding the sites was appropriate.
But Bruce Billson, the Opposition spokesman for broadband, communications and the digital economy, said it would be difficult to regulate and it was the parents' responsibility: Parents should maintain an active interest in the use of the internet by
members of their family .
Supporters and opponents of sex shops see an opportunity for change in the Queensland government's review of legislation on adult shops.
The review has been prompted by the siting of a sex shop opposite a Catholic school in the North Queensland town of Proserpine, which the government currently has no power to prevent.
Announcing the review, Acting Premier Paul Lucas questioned why New South Wales had laws prohibiting sex shops within 200 metres of schools and Queensland did not.
Bravehearts child protection nutter Hetty Johnson said even 200 metres was too close: They should not be put anywhere near schools, they should be in industrial areas . I think even the people that attend them and buy stuff from them might feel
a bit more comfortable if it's sort of out of the way and not quite so visible. And we shouldn't be enticing children with these carrots all the time by sticking this kind of adult stuff around their environment.
Eros Foundation spokeswoman Fiona Patton wants the review to look at relaxing the current restrictions on what sex shops can sell: Currently magazines that are available in NSW newsagents are illegal to sell in Queensland, and in fact you can go to
jail for selling one .
Following up on the Australian censors ban in February, Dark Sector 's local distributor, AFA Interactive has confirmed its intentions to release a build based on the sanitised Japanese version of the game down under.
AFA Interactive reveals it is simply waiting for publisher D3 Interactive to send out the new iteration of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 title. With no decapitation and toned down... limb severing on humans (only) , AFA hopes this build
will guarantee a MA 15+ reclassification under the ever hypocritical rules of the Australian censors.
While debate rages over an adult classification for video games in Australia, RockStar announce that they will bypass the furore by presenting a children's version of Grand Theft Auto IV to retail shelves.
With Grand Theft Auto IV slated for an April 29 release, RockStar Games have given an interview response detailing a special version for the Australian PAL market.
A Rockstar spokesperson confirmed that the company had produced a special version of GTA IV to comply with the Australian classification system, which does not currently contain an R18+ rating, but declined to reveal what material had been cut.
Race hate websites could be banned under an internet censorship proposal being considered by Australia's state and federal attorneys-general.
The plan, which is in its early stages, has aroused concern among civil libertarians who fear it could be used to stifle political debate.
The attorneys-general, meeting in Adelaide last week, commissioned a report on the viability of authorising the Australian Communications and Media Authority to combat race-hate sites by ordering internet service providers to take them down.
At present, ACMA polices websites that breach copyright, promote terrorism or publish extreme pornography.
There are racial vilification laws, but the problem with the internet is you can't trace down the people, NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos said. Any material that incites vilification and hatred is of concern. Material on the internet is
a particular concern because it provides a cheap and easy means of dissemination to a very wide audience.
The proposal, which would be open for public consultation before any decision was made, followed a referral to the attorneys by state and federal police ministers, Hatzistergos said.
For the ACMA to be able to take down sites, it would require a new definition of the "refused classification" category used by the federal Government's Classification Board to deal with violent pornography and similar material.
But Dale Clapperton, from the online civil liberties group Electronic Frontiers Australia, said a problem with banning such sites was that it inevitably turns them into martyrs and gives more attention to the type of material you are trying to
The best cure for 'bad' speech is more speech, Clapperton said.