Events @ UOW
print Tell a friend Save/Import Maps Transport

ISTR Public Lecture - Fiona Patten - ‘Customs: Setting New Agendas on Censorship, Privacy and Morality’

Date:Tuesday, 27 November 2012
Time:5pm to 6pm
Venue:Building 67 Room 202

ISTR and the Faculty of Arts, University of Wollongong Present a Public Talk by

Fiona Patten: President of the Eros Association and the Australian Sex Party

In conjunction with the workshop New Media Regulation and Cultural Literacies –
The Need for Evidence-Based Policy

‘Customs: Setting New Agendas on Censorship, Privacy and Morality’

Tuesday 27 November 5:00 - 6:00 p.m. (venue Building 67 room 202)

For catering purposes please rsvp Professor Mark McLelland by Friday 23 November

What it is legal to possess in Australia can now be illegal to import. At Australian borders it can be illegal to possess images of acts it is legal to perform. What may be legal to write about can now be illegal to depict in an illustration. Material that may have been legally downloaded onto a computer can be illegal to import as a DVD or a publication. In fact the same material that has been legally downloaded may be deemed illegal if found on a computer or phone at an Australian border. The addition of a question about ‘pornography’ on incoming passenger cards has caused thousands of people to reveal the personal contents of their mobile phones and laptops. Customs agents equipped with magnifying lenses pore over adult publications and seize any that may have an image, often smaller than a postage stamp, which they consider to be offensive to a ‘reasonable adult’. The importing of commercial erotic master discs for classification purposes has been completely stopped through an overzealous reading of Section 4 of the Customs Act. In Australia you cannot sell a film unless it has been classified but you can no longer import an adult film for the purposes of editing it and classifying it!

Over the last 10 years, Customs have increasingly seized and destroyed media that people have imported into Australia for their own personal possession, using legislation that was only ever intended to prohibit the commercial sale of such material. This represents an unacceptable level of interference in people’s private lives and their democratic rights to possess and own material that most often depicts or describes completely legal acts and behaviour. Customs officers are increasingly insisting on unrealistic interpretations of the law, positioning themselves as the de facto moral police of the nation. In this presentation Fiona Patten, who has over two decades of experience as an advocate for the adult industry and as a campaigner for the right to privacy, discusses her recent experience in several court cases challenging Customs’ seizure of adult material. She discusses the limitations of the training sessions offered to Customs officials by the Classification Board and talks about her time spent with Customs officers as they pore over adult DVDs and publications searching for potentially offending images. Fiona argues that Customs have developed an overzealous surveillance regime that is out of synch with the spirit of the actual regulations and calls for increased public scrutiny of the manner in which adult materials are policed at Australia’s borders.

Contact:Mark McLelland []