Bishop banishes book bans with new Member’s Bill

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

National List MP Chris Bishop today released a new Member’s Bill which will help avoid a repeat of the banning of Ted Dawe’s award-winning Into the River.

“The unfortunate banning of Into the River for six weeks revealed an anomaly in the law around ‘interim restriction orders’ made under the Film, Videos and Publications Classification Act 1993,” Mr Bishop says.

“Interim restriction orders can be made by either the president of the Film and Literature Board of Review or the High Court when a classification decision is appealed to a higher review body.

“Into the River was the first time an interim restriction had been ordered on a book. In making the order, the president of the Board of Review had only two options – to leave the book unrestricted, or to ban the book entirely before the Board of Review met. The president chose the latter, even though three separate classification decisions had ruled the book should be legal (including the president himself arguing for a R18 restriction).

“My Member’s bill will provide the president of the Board of Review (and the High Court) an expanded toolkit that can be used when considering whether to restrict a publication. The Bill will allow the president to restrict a publication based on age, or specified classes of people – the same powers available to the Classification Office and Board of Review.

“In the case of Into the River it would have meant the president could have reverted the book to its R14 status, rather than banning it outright, while the review was considered.

“It is quite plain that Into the River should not have been banned. This small change will help ensure such a situation does not happen again.”

The legislation will be lodged in the ballot for the next Member’s bill draw some time in early 2016.