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section heading icon     landmarks

This page offers a brief chronology of censorship in Australia.

It covers -

It is indicative only. Context is provided by the multi-page communications & media timeline on this site.

section marker     colonial

1819 'Six Acts' in England (inc Newspaper & Stamp Duties Act and Blasphemous & Seditious Libel Act)

1824 daily newspaper censorship ceases in New South Wales

1827 NSW enactment against "publication of Blasphemous and Seditious Libels"

1828 Places of Public Entertainment Act 1828 in NSW colony

1832 Governor Bourke formalises licensing of theatrical performances in colony of NSW

1841 New Zealand colony detached from NSW

1857 Obscene Publications Act 1857 in UK

1858 Customs regulations about "obscene and indecent" imports in place in colony of New Zealand

1868 Hicklin case in UK

1876 Obscene Publications Act 1876 (Vic)

1882 Places of Public Entertainment Act 1882 (SA)

1889 Customs officials in Victoria seize imported books to protect Melbourne from "subtle and deadly infection of French literary vice"

1890 five Christchurch booksellers plead guilty to selling novels by Zola

1892 New Zealand Offensive Publications Act 1892

1893 New Zealand Post Office Act allows opening and destruction of suspected "indecent" mail

1894 New Zealand Offensive Publications Act 1894

1900 sending "indecent" content by mail becomes offence in New Zealand

1900 Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)

section marker     federation

1901 Post & Telegraph Act (Cth) empowers Postmaster Generals' Department to impound and destroy offending material

1901 Obscene & Indecent Publications Act 1901 (NSW)

1902 Indecent Publications & Articles Act 1902 (WA)

1905 New Zealand Offensive Publications Act 1895

1906 amendment to Offensive Publications Act 1892 in New Zealand allows searching of premises for indecent material

1906 'art versus obscenity' case in New Zealand

1907 Victorian Chief Secretary bans screenings of The Kelly Gang in Benalla and Wangarratta

1908 Theatres & Public Halls Act (NSW)

1908 New Zealand Police Offences Act 1908 replaces Offensive Publications Acts

1909 Harry Holland jailed for sedition over advocacy of violent revolution during Broken Hill miners' strike

1910 International Agreement for the Suppression of the Circulation of Obscene Publications

1910 New Zealand Indecent Publications Act 1910

1911 exhibition of The Kelly Gang film banned in Adelaide

1913 Harry Holland jailed in NZ during 1913 waterfront dispute

1914 War Precautions Act 1914 (Cth)

1915 Australian newspaper censorship under War Precautions Act (Cth)

1916 Unlawful Associations Act 1916 (Cth)

1916 New Zealand Cinematograph-film Censorship Act 1916

1916 'Sydney Twelve' case in Australia against IWW

1916 establishment of office of the Chief Film Censor in New Zealand

1917 Commonwealth Censorship Board established to regulate import of film

1917 print of Giorgione's 1510 Sleeping Venus found indecent in New Zealand

1917 New Zealand bookseller convicted for selling de Maupassant novella

1919 James Joyce's Ulysses banned by Commonwealth

1919 Customs (Cinematograph) Regulations 1919 establish office of Commonwealth Chief Film Censor

1919 Red Flag Riots in Brisbane

1920 Ewing Inquiry reports on whether IWW 'Sydney 12' engaged in conspiracy of a seditious nature

1923 International Convention for the Suppression of and Traffic in Obscene Publications

1923 New Zealand government committee established to advise on imported literature

1926 Jean Devanny's The Butchers Shop banned in New Zealand as "sordid, unwholesome and unclean"

1927 Royal Commission on the Moving Picture Industry in Australia

1928 new Commonwealth Film Censorship Board and Appeal Board established

1928 Commonwealth Customs (Cinematograph Films) Regulations 1928

1929 Australian Customs bans import of Joyce's Ulysses

1929 Devanny's The Butchers Shop banned in Australia

1929 Commonwealth introduces 'average householder test'

1930 New Zealand Advisory Committee on Literature replaces Censorship Appeal Board

1930 Norman Lindsay's Redheap banned by Commonwealth but available in NZ, UK, Canada and US

1930 film of Remarque's All Quiet On The Western Front temporarily banned in New Zealand

1931 Vagrants, Gaming & Other Offences Act (Qld)

section marker     the age of anxiety?

1932 Aldous Huxley's Brave New World banned by Commonwealth

1933 Commonwealth government establishes Book Censorship Advisory Committee (aka Book Censorship Board)

1934 Book Censorship Abolition League formed in Melbourne

1935 New Zealand bookseller convicted for displaying Balzac's Droll Stories

1936 Book Censorship Abolition League becomes Council for Civil Liberties

1936 Odets's anti-Nazi Till the Day I Die banned in NSW, on advice of Commonwealth Attorney-General RG Menzies, under Theatres & Public Halls Act 1908

1936 Reed's Ten Days That Shook The World banned by Commonwealth

1937 Commonwealth Book Censorship Advisory Committee becomes Literature Censorship Board under Customs (Literature Censorship) Regulations 1937

1937 Joyce's Ulysses unbanned by Commonwealth

1939 Boccaccio's Decameron found to be decent after legal appeal in New Zealand

1939 Commonwealth Department of Information established

1939 Commonwealth censorship of cablegrams and radio broadcasts under War Precautions Act (Cth) (ceases 1945)

1941 Joyce's Ulysses re-banned by Commonwealth

1942 newspaper Advisory Committee on Censorship established by Prime Minister

1942 Commonwealth Parliamentary Joint Committee on Wireless Broadcasting

1944 'Ern Malley' Angry Penguins case in South Australia

1944 Daily Telegraph protest against newspaper censorship in Australia

1945 Forever Amber banned in New Zealand

1946 Robert Close's Love Me, Sailor banned by Commonwealth and Victoria

1946 Glassop's We Are The Rats banned by Commonwealth

1946 Christina Stead's Letty Fox, Her Luck banned by Commonwealth

1947 Brian Penton's Censored! pamphlet

1947 Censorship of Films Act 1947 (WA)

1947 Picture Theatre & Film Act 1947 (Qld)

1948 Christina Stead's A Little Tea, a Little Chat banned by Commonwealth

1949 Western Australia, Queensland and Tasmania sign agreement delegating film censorship functions to Commonwealth

1949 first Kinsey report in US

1949 Censorship of Films Act 1949 (Tas)

1951 New Zealand Official Secrets Act 1951

1952 Australian D Notice system introduced

1954 Mazengarb Report on Moral Delinquency in Children & Adolescents

1917 New Zealand Indecent Publications Act requires distributors of printed matter to register with Secretary of Justice

1954 Objectionable Literature Act 1954 (Qld)

1954 Queensland Literature Review Board established

1954 The Wild One banned in New Zealand

1955 Rebel Without A Cause allowed into New Zealand on appeal

1956 Eugene Goossens incident at Sydney airport

1956 new Commonwealth Film Censorship Board established under the Customs (Cinematograph Films) Regulations

1957 Commonwealth Customs seizes copies of Catcher in the Rye intended as gift from US Ambassador to federal government

1958 New Zealand print registration requirements abandoned

1960 New Zealand Supreme Court agrees that Nabokov's Lolita is indecent

1960 New Zealand Court of Appeals confirms Supreme Court ruling re Lolita

1961 New Zealand Crimes Act prohibits "indecent" performances

1963 New Zealand Indecent Publications Act 1963

1963 New Zealand Indecent Publications Tribunal established

1963 NSW Council of Civil Liberties established

1964 Oz censorship trial in Australia

1966 Masters & Johnson's Human Sexual Response

1967 Corbishley case

1967 Nation reveals Australian D Notice system

1967 Crowe v Graham case

section marker     convergence

1968 uniform State-Commonwealth censorship laws

1968 America Hurrah! banned in NSW under Theatres & Public Halls Act 1908

1969 Minister for Customs Don Chipp (later founder of Australian Democrats) bans Tynan's Oh! Calcutta book

1969 Roth's Portnoy's Complaint becomes prohibited import

1969 performance of Crowley's The Boys in the Band censored by Victorian state government

1970 NSW, WA, Qld and Victorian governments prosecute local publishers or retailers of Portnoy's Complaint

1971 Film Classification Act 1971 (ACT)

1971 Classification of Films for Public Exhibition Act 1971 (SA)

1972 Cohen's Beautiful Losers published in Australia despite import ban

1972 New Zealand jury rejects charges against producers of Hair musical

1973 National Times breaches D Notice by revealing existence of Defence Signals Directorate (DSD)

1974 Classification of Publications Act 1974 (SA)

1975 Indecent Articles, Classified Publications Act 1975 (NSW)

1976 Pasolini's Salò banned in Australia

1977 New Zealand Contraception, Sterilisation & Abortion Act 1977 restricts publications with contraception information

1982 New Zealand Official Information Act 1982

1982 Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth)

1984 Commonwealth enacts Classification of Publications Ordinance 1983 (COPO) in the ACT as model legislation

1984 Film & Video Tape Classification Act 1984 (NSW)

1984 Films Act (Vic) introduces X-rating

1984 Classification of Publications Act 1984 (Tas)

1984 Penthouse banned in New Zealand

1984 Censorship of Films Amendment Act 1984 (WA)

1985 Classification of Publications & Films Act 1985 (NT)

1986 Rev Ogle and Rev Father O'Neill attack Je Vous Salue Maria under blasphemy provisions

1987 Queensland Literature Board of Review lifts ban on international edition of Playboy

1987 New Zealand Video Recordings Authority established under Video Recordings Act

1987 Video Tapes Classification & Control Act 1987 (WA)

1988 Report of Federal Parliament Joint Select Committee on Video Material

1988 Commonwealth Office of Film & Literature Classification established

1989 New Zealand Ministerial Committee of Inquiry into Pornography

1989 New Zealand Broadcasting Act 1989

1989 Publications Control Ordinance 1989 (ACT)

1990 New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990

1990 Classification of Films & Publications Act 1990 (Vic)

1991 Classification of Films Act 1991 and Classification of Publications Act 1991 (Qld)

1991 Australian Law Reform Commission Censorship Procedure report

1992 Nationwide News v Wills

1992 Australian Capital Television Pty Ltd v Commonwealth

1993 Mature Adult (MA) film classification in Australia

1993 Australian ban on Pasolini's Salò lifted

1993 New Zealand Films, Videos & Publications Classification Act 1993

1994 New Zealand Office of Film & Literature Classification established

1994 report of the Commonwealth Computer Bulletin Board Task Force

1995 Commonwealth Consultation Paper on the Regulation of On-line Information Services

1995 Classification (Publications, Films & Computer Games) Act 1995 (Cth)

1995 Classification (Publications, Films & Computer Games) Enforcement Act 1995 (NSW)

1995 Classification (Publications, Films & Computer Games) Enforcement Act 1995 (Vic)

1995 Classification (Publications, Films & Computer Games) Act 1995 (ACT)

1995 Queensland Classification of Computer Games & Images Act 1995 (Qld)

1995 Classification (Publications, Films & Computer Games) Act 1995 (SA)

1995 Classification (Publications, Films & Computer Games) Enforcement Act 1995 (Tas)

1995 Senate Inquiry into the Regulation of Computer On-Line Services

1995 Australian Broadcasting Authority Issues Paper on the Investigation into the Content of On-Line Services

1995 Rabelais 'Art of Shoplifting' issue banned in Victoria

1996 Censorship Act 1996 (WA)

1996 Racial Vilification Act 1996 (SA)

1996 Pasolini's Salò again banned in Australia

1996 Territory Classification of Publications, Films & Computer Games Act 1996 (NT)

1997 Pell v Trustees of NGV ('Piss Christ' case)

1997 Commonwealth Chief Censor John Dickie says that despite stringent codes for offensive material such as child pornography "it will not be possible to ban material from the Internet"

section marker     Online Services

1999 Broadcasting Services Amendment (Online Services) Act 1999 (Cth)

2000 South Australian police seize book of Mapplethorpe photos

2000 Australian Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission rules that Toben site breaches Racial Discrimination Act

2001 community and industry criticism of NSW Classification (Publications, Films & Computer Games) Enforcement Amendment Bill 2001 (NSW)

2001 Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 (Vic)

2001 Anti-Discrimination Amendment Act 2001 (Qld)

2003 Ken Park film banned in NSW

2004 Crimes Legislation Amendment (Telecommunications Offences and Other Measures) Act (Cth)

2005 Batty case in NZ - Auckland District Court rejects defence that NZ has no jurisdiction over site administered from Auckland but hosted in the US

2005 New Zealand Films, Videos, & Publications Classification Amendment Act 2005

2007 Classification Amendment (Terrorist Material) Act 2007 (Cth)

2007 Communications Legislation Amendment (Crime or Terrorism Related Internet Content) Bill 2007 (Cth)

2007 Communications Legislation Amendment (Content Services) Act 2007 (Cth)


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version of December 2007
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