Action Alert

17 November 2001

Alert! New NSW law would criminalise Internet material unsuitable for children

Contact NSW State politicians and urge them to reject proposed new Internet censorship laws.

NSW Parliament expected to vote on Bill
in week of 26 Nov 2001.

Please redistribute this alert, but only before 30 November 2001 and only to appropriate newsgroups, lists and contacts.

URL of this alert:





Latest News:

Proposed new Internet censorship laws, applicable to ordinary people who use the Internet to communicate, have been introduced into NSW Parliament. It is expected that both houses of Parliament will vote on the Bill in the week commencing 26 November 2001. For information about the Bill see the Background section below.

What YOU Can Do Now:

Please make personal contact urgently with NSW Members of Parliament and let them know that you are opposed to the proposed new Internet censorship laws. More information about what you can do, and NSW politicians' contact details, is below.



Proposed new Internet censorship laws were tabled in the NSW Parliament on 7 November 2001 by the Attorney-General, Bob Debus. These are included in the NSW Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Enforcement Amendment Bill 2001. It is expected that both houses of Parliament will vote on the Bill in the week commencing 26 November 2001 (the Parliament is in recess next week - week commencing 19 Nov). The Bill is very likely to be passed, without amendment, certainly unless politicians become aware of sufficient public concern about the Bill and decide to re-consider the Bill rather than rush it through Parliament.

Serious criminal justice issues arise from the provisions of Internet censorship section of the NSW Bill. The Bill requires, at the least, amendment to ensure that ordinary NSW people who use the Internet to communicate are treated no less fairly under criminal law than offline commercial publishers.

Among other things, the Bill criminalises making available content unsuitable for children online, even if the content is only made available to adults. (While a defence is offered, this unjustifiably reverses the onus of proof and requires an Internet user to defend themself in a court of law. The defence is also problematic for other reasons). The Bill covers content placed on the web, including email sent to mailing lists that are archived on the web, messages to newsgroups, etc. The penalties are a maximum of $11,000 for individuals and $27,500 for corporations for making available "objectionable matter" and $5,500 and $11,000 respectively in relation to "matter unsuitable for minors".

The proposed legislation subjects ordinary Internet users to criminal proceedings for failure to foresee the classification that "would be" granted, from time to time, to particular material by a non-unanimous decision of members of the Classification Board of the Office of Film and Literature Classification, or that police guess "would be" given a particular classification. The recent controversy over the film 'Hannibal' highlights the fact that the OFLC Board members disagree over the boundary between MA and R content, as do many other members of the Australian community. The 'Hannibal' case is not an isolated one.

For more detail about the Bill, and why it should be rejected, see EFA's comprehensive reference source on the Bill at:



1. Contact Members of NSW Parliament urgently
2. Write letters to the editors of newspapers

1. Contact Members of NSW Parliament

Emailing politicians is the least effective means of making your concerns known to a politician as many do not highly regard email or receive so much it does not get read promptly. It is more effective to write a letter and fax or snailmail it, or phone their office to discuss the matter or arrange a face to face meeting. If you raise your concerns by phone, it is worth following up with a fax, letter or email.

It is however better to send an email than do nothing, but the more people who use alternative means of communication the more effective this campaign may be.

  • General Points
    • Raise your concerns about the Bill, including if you wish some or all of the points from EFA's analysis of the Bill.
    • If you use points from EFA's resources, re-write them in your own words. Many politicians consider it is too easy to just cut and paste from e.g. campaign resources without properly considering the issues and so pay less, if any, regard to such communications.
    • If you have particular personal concerns, e.g. if you publish material on your own website, emphasise those.
    • Request the politician/s you contact to act: to raise the matter in the party room - point out that the issues are important enough to warrant amendments the Bill, and/or for them to cross the floor/vote against the Bill. When contacting politicians other than those of the NSW current government (ALP) ask them to also get their party to pledge to repeal the legislation, if it is passed, at the earliest future opportunity.
    • Stress that the legislation will generate negative international publicity about NSW (and Australia) as a police state and damage the information economy in New South Wales. (To EFA's extensive knowledge no other Western democracy has implemented legislation of this nature).
    • Be polite when communicating with politicians and their staff.
  • Face to face meetings
    • If you live in NSW call your local member (and/or one of the key opposition members listed below) and ask for a meeting. (As NSW Parliament does not sit in the week commencing Mon 19 Nov, Legislative Assembly Members are likely to be in their local electorate, rather than at Parliament House in Sydney.)
  • Writing a Letter
    • Keep letters short and preferably handwritten (handwritten letters are regarded more highly by some politicians).
    • The form of address is:
      • Members of the Legislative Assembly (lower house): "Mr/Ms (firstname surname), MP".
        (Ministers and others so entitled, are addressed as "The Hon". If uncertain, see the NSW Parliament Members list).
      • Members of the Legislative Council (upper house): "The Hon (firstname surname), MLC".
    • Letters should be addressed to: Parliament House, Macquarie Street, Sydney NSW 2000
  • Phone Calls
    • Ask to speak to someone about the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Enforcement Amendment Bill 2001
    • You will probably get to talk to a staffer.
    • If they try to fob you off by telling you to talk to Bob Debus's (A-G's) office, tell them that he isn't responding to your concerns. (The NSW A-G's office issued "draft model" legislation for public comment in 1999 and the current Bill shows that very few, if any, issues raised in response to that exposure draft have been addressed.)
    • Be polite.
  • E-Mail
    • E-mails are not yet highly regarded by most members of parliament, but for those who live outside NSW this may be the most practical form of communication.  Known E-mail addresses of key members are listed below under Further Information. E-mails should be worded politely but firmly.
  • Feedback
    • Please send a brief email advising of any response you receive from a politician to: <>
      The feedback you provide will help EFA to further refine this and future campaigns.

2. Write letters to the editors of newspapers

Write letters to editors of newspapers in Sydney and also in suburban and NSW country areas. Published letters help raise awareness of the Bill among readers who are not aware the Bill, and politicians or their staff generally monitor letters pages. Even if not published, such letters can have the effect of drawing to the newspaper's attention that the issue is of public concern and should be reported on by their staff. Two relevant addresses are:

Sydney Morning Herald:
Daily Telegraph:

Addresses for letters to other newspapers, such as those in suburban and country areas, can usually be found on the letters page of the relevant newspaper.



A comprehensive reference source on the bill, including links to critiques of the bill, is available at:

Contact details for key members of NSW Parliament are included below. You can find the contact details for your elected representatives and other NSW Members of Parliament at:!OpenFrameSet

Each Legislative Council Member represents people of the whole State, while each Legislative Assembly Member represents the people of one electorate. You can find out which electorate you live in at:

The Bill is currently before the lower house (Legislative Assembly) where the Government (ALP) holds balance of power. After a Bill is passed by the lower house, either with or without amendments, it moves on to the upper house (Legislative Council). The balance of power in the Legislative Council is held by crossbenchers i.e. minor parties and independents. The Legislative Council consists of 42 members: ALP=16, Lib=9, NP=4 Crossbenchers=13. The legislation is likely to be approved by the Legislative Assembly in the week commencing 26 November and immediately move to the Legislative Council for a vote in the same week.

To effect change requires either the ALP to see the error of its proposals, or a majority of the Legislative Council to fail to approve the legislation or at least insist on amendments.

Contact details for key members of the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council are as follows. (It is important that you also contact the elected Legislative Assembly member in your particular NSW electorate):

Mail address for all persons listed below: Parliament House, Macquarie Street, Sydney NSW 2000

Legislative Assembly (lower house):
Government (ALP)

The Hon. Robert John Debus, MP
Attorney General
Ph: (02) 9995 6500
Fax: (02) 9281 1115

The Hon. Robert John Carr, MP
Premier, Minister for the Arts, and Minister for Citizenship
Ph: (02) 9349 6440
Fax: (02) 9349 4594

The Hon. (Kim) Kimberley Maxwell Yeadon, MP
Minister for Information Technology
Phone: (02) 9228 3688
Fax: (02) 9228 3801

Liberal Party

Mr Christopher Peter Hartcher, MP
Shadow Attorney-General
Phone: (02) 4325 1603
Fax: (02) 4324 2356

Mrs Kerry Anne Chikarovski, MP
Leader of the Opposition
Phone: (02) 9817 4757
Fax: (02) 9817 5885

Mr Barry Robert O'Farrell, MP
Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Shadow Minister for Transport and Information Technology
Phone: (02) 9499 2280
Fax: (02) 9499 2281

National Party

The Hon. George Souris, MP
Leader of the National Party
Phone: (02) 6543 1065
Fax: (02) 6543 1416

Legislative Council (upper house):
Government (ALP)

The Hon. John Joseph Della Bosca, MLC
Special Minister of State
Phone: (02) 9228 4777
Fax: (02) 9228 4392

Liberal Party

The Hon. Michael Joseph Gallacher, MLC
Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council
Phone: (02) 9230 2302
Fax: (02) 9230 2980

National Party

The Hon. Duncan John Gay, MLC
Leader of the National Party, Deputy Leader of the Opposition
Phone: (02) 9230 2329
Fax: (02) 9230 2923


The Hon. Ian Cohen, MLC
The Greens
Phone: (02) 9230 2603
Fax: (02) 9230 2267

The Hon. Lee Rhiannon, MLC
The Greens
Phone: 9230 3551
Fax: 9230 3550

The Hon. Dr Arthur Chesterfield-Evans, MLC
Australian Democrats
Phone: 9230 2303
Fax: 9230 2866

The Hon. Peter James Breen, MLC
Reform the Legal System
Phone: 9230 2883
Fax: 9230 3568

The Hon. Richard Stanley Leigh Jones, MLC
Phone: 9230 2858
Fax: 9230 2871

The Hon. Helen Wai-Har Sham-Ho, MLC
Phone: 9230 2305
Fax: 9230 2918

The Hon. David Oldfield, MLC
Pauline Hanson's One Nation
Phone: 9230 2083
Fax: 9230 3505



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