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The X Rating - it's origins and intent [Mar. 6th, 2008|10:23 pm]
Bob Bain
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Link from classification.gov.au Resources.. (pdf file)

Title: VIDEO CLASSIFICATIONS: Discussion of Matter of Public Importance
Date: 14 June 1984
Database: Senate Hansard
Speaker: Evans Sen The Hon G.J. (ATTORNEY GENERAL, ALP, VIC, Government)
Interjector: Senator Mason; Senator Harradine; Senator Walters
Page: 3037
Proof: No
Source: Senate
Type: Speech
Context: Matter of Public Importance

Senator GARETH EVANS (Victoria-Attorney-General)(3.57) --The interest being shown by the Opposition in pornography is becoming positively unhealthy. For some considerable months now it has been bordering on the obsessive but today's debate, occupying as it does some two hours of parliamentary time at a time when all of us are anxious to wind up the session, demonstrates that the Opposition's pre-occupation with this subject is becoming a matter of almost clinical concern . At least Senator Durack spared us the dirty words, unlike his colleague Senator Walters, who can never resist on these occasions uttering a few contributions from the lexicon of the censors, and similarly his colleague in the other place, Don Cameron, whose idea of good, clean, non-degrading fun is to have a half-naked woman jump out of a cake at a Liberal Party bucks night. These are the sorts of people who are belabouring us with such passion on this subject at the moment.


Senator Gareth Evans Q.C.
13 July 1983
New Uniform Video Censorship System

A new uniform system of video tape censorship classification was today agreed to in Brisbane by a meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers with censorship responsibilities.

It is designed to ensure maximum freedom for adults to view what they wish in the privacy of their homes and at the same time give guidance to consumers as to what they are buying or hiring and place some limits on what can be openly displayed or sold to children.

The main elements in the system, which were unanimously agreed to by the Ministers present for recommendation to their respective Governments are:

(1) Imported video tapes for home use to be no longer subject to compulsory registration by the Film Censorship Board;

(2) Video tapes for sale or hire to be classified at the request of the importer, distributor or retailer by the Film Censorship Board;

(3) The classification standards to be applied to be the same as for cinemas- vis. ''G'', ''NRC'', ''M'' and ''R''-but with a further category ''X'', to be added for stronger material which would be refused cinema showing. Only child pornography and similar very extreme material would be refused classification altogether;

(4) The States to pass laws imposing appropriate points of sale restrictions ( in particular no sale to minors) and for ''R'' and ''X'' classified material;

(5) The existence of a classification to be a complete defence for retailers against prosecution under State obscenity laws;

(6) Classification recommendations by the Film Censorship Board to be subject to review by the Commonwealth Films Board of Review.

Uniform Literature Censorship System

The meeting also confirmed the agreement reached in principle in 1981 to establish a uniform classification system for publications. Uniform classifications would be applied by Commonwealth censorship officers to both imported and locally produced publications.

The system will involve two basic categories of both ''Restricted'' publications, roughly corresponding to the ''R'' and ''X'' categories for video tape classification, with appropriate point of sale controls.
It will be up to each State to legislate the system into effect. All States- with the exception of Queensland (which wishes to continue with its own system for the forseeable future) and Tasmania (which wishes to adopt a ''wait and see' ' approach) undertook to implement the necessary legislation, following a model Act now in operation in South Australia.
Film Classification Categories

The meeting resolved in principle to replace the existing ''NRC'' classification with a more appropriate and descriptive one, possibly approximating the ''PGR'' standard now familiar in television. This matter is to be further considered by the Ministers.

The meeting was chaired by the Commonwealth Attorney-General, Senator Gareth Evans. The other Ministers present were: Mr Paul Landa, Attorney-General, New South Wales; Mr John Cain, Premier and Attorney-General, Victoria; Mr J. A. Elliott, Minister for Tourism, National Parks, Sport and the Arts, Queensland; Mr Chris Sumner, Attorney-General, South Australia; Mr David Parker, Minister for Employment and Administrative Services, Western Australia; Mr Max Bingham, QC, Attorney-General, Tasmania; and Mr Brian Martin, QC, Solicitor-General, Northern Territory. Also present were Mrs Janet Strickland, Chief Censor, Film Censorship Board and Sir Richard Kingsland, Chairman, Films Board of Review.


Ministers Reach General Agreement on Video Censorship

Commonwealth and State Ministers with censorship responsibilities meeting in Sydney today expressed general support for making the new uniform national videotape classification system compulsory.

This would represent a change to the voluntary scheme agreed to in principle by Ministers last July and which is already operating to varying degrees in the A.C .T., South Australia and Western Australia.
It would involve requiring all video tapes for sale or hire to be classified, with a penalty (possibly graded according to the nature of the material) attaching where this does not occur. This compares with the present voluntary system, where dealers are exposed to prosecution under existing obscenity laws if they sell unclassified ''R'' or ''X'' type material.

Nice idea Gareth (sigh)

I remember that. 1984 was the year the ALP in New South Wales lost touch with the people and banned the sale of the new fangled "X-rated video", but as a few people note from time to time the bans have never actually worked ! It was NEVER intended as a "sex only" classification.

Neville Wran lost his voice a short while after passing the legislation.

Australian news article 2008 (link)...

By the mid-’80s, the radical feminist critique of pornography had begun to have a mainstream impact. A good example of this was the debates in the Australian parliament over how to regulate the classification, sale and rental of pornographic videotapes. In 1983, a meeting of the Commonwealth and state ministers responsible for censorship agreed that a new X classification should be developed for videos that were more sexually explicit than movies currently classified R. The classification specifically excluded sexually violent material, child pornography and bestiality. Nonetheless, the debate that ensued focused almost entirely on claims that X-rated videos showed extreme cruelty towards women, and other abhorrent material. In 1984, British moral crusader Mary Whitehouse toured Australia with her local counterpart, Reverend Fred Nile, and lobbied politicians to ban the X category. The premier of NSW, Neville Wran, changed his stance and decided to condemn X-rated material after receiving advice from his Women’s Advisory Council, which objected to any material that portrayed women as “things, commodities or objects”. This advice was grounded in a very different logic to the one that spurred Whitehouse and Nile to condemn the X category. Yet when the premier chose International Women’s Day to announce that he thought the whole issue of legalising the X category should be re-examined, he spoke in the same terms as the conservatives, invoking the spectres of pack-rape and extreme violence.