Censorship of books and films (2007)

Censorship: war on free speech

Update: classification review board's decision

The decision in NSWCCL's case against the Classification Review Board in relation to the Islamic books came down on Thursday 14 June. Unfortunately, but perhaps not surprisingly, NSWCCL's application was dismissed.

The decision is NSW Council for Civil Liberties Inc v Classification Review Board (No. 2) [2007] FCA 896. You can read the decision here.

We are considering an appeal.

Previously on this issue...

CCL founding member and leading Australian author Frank Moorhouse explores recent acts
of suppression of free speech and censorship in The Australian newspaper The story we linked to is no longer available

CCL challenges book banning decision

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties has commenced proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against the Classification Review Board and the Attorney General (Commonwealth) seeking judicial review of the decisions of the Board to refuse classification to two books.

The two books are Defence of the Muslim Lands and Join the Caravan by Abdullah Azzam, both written in the early 1980’s.

You can read the decisions of the Classification Review Board in relation to Defence of the Muslim Lands and Join the Caravan by following the links.

You can read CCL’s application to the Federal Court here (29 September 2006).

...but you can’t read the books !!!

Even News Limited is now reporting the story as Thought police seize control even though it was it's own The Daily Telegraph that initially drew attention to the books and prompted the Government to push for the ban.

“Book ban anger, it will hinder freedoms”, reports The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper (4 October 2006)

The banning of the books was the subject of the ABC Radio National Perspective program on 6 October 2006.

The Court proceedings will be heard on 28 November 2006. They are open to the public.

The Council of Australian University Librarians, the Australian Library and Information Association, the Australian Society of Authors and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions say the book bans threaten both our freedoms and our capacity to respond to terrorism. The content we linked is no longer available

More reading...

Another challenge to book banning

NSW Council for Civil Liberties has been recognised by the Classification Review Board as an interested party in the Commonwealth Government's latest attempt to ban The Peaceful Pill Handbook by Dr Philip Nitschke and Dr Fiona Stewart.

The Attorney General (Commonwealth) and the Right to Life Association (NSW) have applied to the Review Board to review the December 2006 decision of the Classification Board to classify the book Restricted R1 - which means that it can be sold only in a sealed package. You can read the Board's decision here.

CCL opposes the banning of this book on the grounds that the "effort required to criminalise people who are seeking, in good faith, to access information and ideas is corrosive to society as a whole".

CCL's submission to the Board is in two parts:

  • Part 1 (general legal submission)
  • Part 2 has been written by CCL member and prominent author, Mr Frank Moorhouse.

CCL has consistently opposed the Government's attempts to prevent people from having access to information about suicide. See our submission to the Senate inquiry on the Criminal Code Amendment (Suicide Related Material Offences) Bill 2005.

adultshop.com challenges censorship

As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald on 20 November 2006, Adultshop.com is challenging the policy of classifying X18+ films depicting real sex but which have no artistic merit (ie pornography). The basis of Adultshop.com's challenge is that the censorship system should recognise that community standards have changed from years ago, and that a substantial majority of adults now believe that such material is not offensive to morality or propriety.

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties has lodged a submission advocating that the Board's responsibility is to properly assess community standards, and not simply impose their own opinions. You can read our submission here.