Fiona Patten Reveals How The NVE Classification Was Derailed

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In 2000, the Howard government seriously considered introducing a new law that would have essentially made explicit porn movies legal in Australia. The Non Violent Erotica (NVE) classification was to replace the existing X classification. Explicit films rated X are illegal to sell in all Australian states (though it’s not illegal to own them). The NVE classification was a handy way of liberalising erotic material in one broad legal stroke without messing around with the laws of individual states.

(I have to say, part of me is still stunned that the Liberals, traditionally the conservative side of politics in Australia, had actually decided to go down this path in 2000. And I’m appalled that the government and opposition we have in 2010 are essentially more conservative, religious and pro-censorship!)


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Unfortunately one right-wing fundamentalist Christian had balance of power in the Senate in 2000 – Brian Harradine. And he succeeded in sinking the NVE classification, ensuring that Australia continues to be stuck with an archaic censorship system.

In this video, shot at the Queensland Humanist Convention in May, Sex Party leader Fiona Patten describes how Harradine convinced the Prime Minister that porn shouldn’t be legalised: he held a private screening of porn films. Essentially, Brian Harradine held a stag night at Parliament House.

Fiona also talks about how she’s spoken to MPs who privately have no issue with porn but who are afraid of losing the religious vote on “moral” issues – thus, we end up in this stagnant political quagmire.

You could argue that the derailing of the NVE classification became something of a moot point in the face of the glories of internet porn. Nonetheless, our ridiculously outdated censorship system is still used by the religious right as a tool for imposing their version of morality on the rest of us. And the internet filter plan has meant we are now hearing calls for the government to classify everything on the internet, with an aim of banning legal adult material.

If you are interested in the history of the X-rating, read An X-Rated Hoax on Libertus. This was written in 1999 and was originally submitted to the government when they were considering the NVE classification.

If you follow me on Twitter you’ll know I’ve been plugging the Sex Party a lot recently. As an atheist, feminist pornographer who believes in human rights, how could I not? We’re currently in the middle of an election campaign here in Australia, so I can’t help but “root” for the ones who are fighting censorship and oppression.

One more thing: isn’t the hypocrisy of censorship infuriating? It was OK for a group of politicians to have an (illegal) public screening of erotic transsexual films in order to “assess” them but the rest of us are apparently morally incapable of such dispassionate judgement. The same thing occurs every time the Australian Classification Board judges something to be Refused Classification; they can see it but the rest of us are too fragile to withstand it.

(Note: The video is 2:12 long and I’m hosting it on my server. Unfortunately I am having a lot of trouble uploading videos to Youtube or other vid services at present so this means the video is not embeddable. Sorry.)

One Reply to “Fiona Patten Reveals How The NVE Classification Was Derailed”

  1. I think Ms Naughty that you have summed up the censorship situation nicely. Basically our politicians are hamstrung by the need to get re-elected and their fear of one faction or another.

    The rules governing the sex industry (prostitution) in Australia are another example of this kind of madness. In one state something is legal, in another it isn’t. Yet any politician trying to change the laws risks losing their job.

    Sadly I don’t anticipate this situation to change any time soon, so here’s another vote for the Sex Party.


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