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Serious Questions over Censor's Position

26/01/07

Serious Questions over Deputy Chief Censor's Position

The Deputy Chief Censor, Ms Nicola McCully, continues to hold a vital statutory position in the Office of Film and Literature Classification, despite the fact that her position became vacant on 17 September 2005 when her three year term of office expired. The Society has called the Minister of Internal Affairs, the Hon. Rick Barker, to replace her.

It has yet to receive any explanation from the Minister explaining how Ms McCully can continue to legally hold office and draw a salary of about $150, 000 per annum, when her warrant has expired.

The Society is aware that there is no provision whatsoever in the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 ("the Act") to allow a statutory appointee to the the Office of Deputy Chief Censor, to continue to hold office when the appointee's term of office has expired.

The Society has called for the Minister to replace both the Chief Censor, Bill Hastings, whose term of office expires later this year (August 2006), and his Deputy, because of the failure of the Office to apply the Act to protect the public from the pandemic of obscene and sexually degrading publications that are being regularly cleared by the Office for adult 'entertainment" in public cinemas (e.g. Baise-Moi) and for home viewing.

The bulk of this "objectionable" material (DVDs and videos) that is classified R18 by the Office, is highly injurious to the public good and is being accessed by many under the age of 18 years of age. These publications contain highly degrading, demeaning and dehumanising sexual content in terms of the treatment of women participants. They gratuitously depict sexual violence, and at the very least tend to promote the marriage of graphic violence and voyeuristic depictions of explicit and degrading sex acts.

The nine minute brutal rape scene that provided "entertainment" for cinema goers who saw the film "Irreversible" and the four and a half minute explicit rape scene witnessed by those who saw "Baise-Moi", was made possible only because of the classification decisions issued under the authority of Bill Hastings and Nicola McCully who both viewed the films.

Copy of Society's Official Information Request to Minister of Internal Affairs Hon. Rick Barker (unanswered as yet).

Attention Hon. Rick Barker Minister of Internal Affairs

9 January 2006

Official Information Request

Dear Mr Barker

On behalf of the Society executive I am writing to request answers to the following questions that relate to one area of your many responsibilities: The Department of Internal Affairs.

1. For how many years was Ms Nicola McCully appointed to the statutory position of Deputy Chief Censor of Film and Literature? (Note: The appointment was made by the Governor-General on 17 September 2002 at the recommendation of your colleague the former Minister of Internal Affairs, Hon. George Hawkins).

2. When did Ms McCully's term of office expire according to the notice gazetted by the Minister of Internal Affairs following her appointment - the same notice given to her by the Governor-General?

3. Is Ms McCully's position now vacant and if so, when and how did it become vacant?

4. Under what statute does Ms McCuly continue to hold office as Deputy Chief Censor?

5. Section 82 of the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 - "Continuation in office after term expires" - was repealed on 25 January 2005.If Ms McCully's term of office has expired then the office is now vacant. In view of the repealing of s. 82 of the principal Act, there is now no legal basis for recognising Ms McCully as Deputy Chief Censor. In view of these facts, why has the Minister not advertised the vacant position of Deputy Chief Censor since it became vacant on 17 September 2005?

6. When does the Minister anticipate gazetting the vacant position of Deputy Chief Censor?

7. What are the Minister's reasons for chosing not to reappoint Ms McCully but instead allowing her position to become vacant?

8. When does the statutory positon of the Chief Censor Bill Hastings become vacant?

We look forward to your responses.

Yours sincerely

David Lane SPCS secretary

[On behalf of Society executive]

Appendix

THE CROWN ENTITIES ACT 2004

Method of appointment of members-

(1) A member of a statutory entity is appointed by-

(a) the responsible Minister, in the case of a member of a Crown agent or autonomous Crown entity; or

(b) the Governor-General, on the recommendation of the responsible Minister, in the case of a member of an independent Crown entity.

(2) The appointment must be made by written notice to the member (with a copy to the entity).

(3) The notice must-

(a) state the date on which the appointment takes effect which must not be earlier than the date on which the notice is received; and

(b) state the term of the appointment; and

(c) be published by the responsible Minister in the Gazette as soon as practicable after being given.

ENDS

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