Australian government to review censorship of "hate material"
Saturday, June 10, 2006
The Australian federal government is looking at reviewing censorship laws to ensure that so-called "hate material" is adequately censored. The government claims the review is required following the approval of eight publications and a film that allegedly promoted terrorism
Australia's attorney general, Phillip Ruddock said he had written to censorship ministers in each state and territory informing them that he wishes to raise the matter with them in July. He said that the government did not wish for material advocating or promoting "terrorist acts" to be available in Australia.
Under Australia's censorship laws, the classification board (which is part of the Office of Film and Literature Classification can refuse to classify a video game, book or film in certain circumstances (including incitement of crime or violence). An item that is refused classification can not be sold, hired or exhibited in Australia.
In a statement Mr Ruddock said that any censorship review had to find the right balance between freedom of expression and the incitement of violence. "I will be asking my State and Territory colleagues to consider whether current laws strike the right balance between freedom of expression and community concerns about promotion of acts of violence."
"Freedom of speech is a right all Australians would fiercely defend so it is important to consider these issues carefully," he said.
Mr Ruddock also has referred eight publications and one film to the Classification Review Board in response to community concerns about the dissemination of material that promotes terrorism.
Last year, eight publications and a film were referred to the Australian Federal Police for investigation after concerns they incited hatred and acts of violence. The AFP could not get sufficient to pursue a prosecution.
The classification board classified the material in December 2005 after it found that the material did not fall under refused classification provisions. The board found that the material did not promote or incite violence or crime.
In response to the classification, Mr Ruddock said "This is an important issue and further consideration of the classification of this material is warranted."
- News Release. "Classification review to consider hate material" — , June 9, 2006
- Office of Film and Literature Classification. "Review announced for eight Islamic books and one film" — , June 9, 2006
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