Extract from:
HANSARD, S.A. LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, Wednesday 14 March 2001


The Hon. CAROLYN PICKLES (Leader of the Opposition): I wish to make some comments about the issue of censorship. On 8 January this year, two detectives visited the Folio/Foliage bookstore in Hindley Street. This is a very high class bookshop that sells predominantly art books and gardening books, and contained in the same area is a very good flower shop. These two detectives wandered around the store and were asked by the owner whether she could help them. They said, `No, we are just having a look.' Finally, they went up to her and told her they were detectives and said that they had received one complaint about a photographic book.

The police searched for this unknown book-they did not know its name or what it looked like. With the help of the owner of the shop, Penelope Curtin, they thought, but were not sure, that the publication they were looking for was a book of photography by the renowned, since deceased, American artist, Robert Mapplethorpe. Robert Mapplethorpe has held many exhibitions in Australia, including a very successful one at the Museum of Contemporary Art in the early 1990s which I attended. While I will admit that his work is very confronting and is not to everybody's taste, it was certainly not banned. I understand that the National Gallery in Canberra and the National Gallery of Victoria have works by Mapplethorpe. I have also been told that the Art Gallery of South Australia has sold this book in the past. Upon examination of the book, it was confiscated by police to enable further examination on the basis that perhaps the material was too explicit and pornographic. I might add that this book costs $145, was on the top shelf of the book shop and would have been absolutely inaccessible to any child.

Miss Curtin told the police that she understood that the book had already been deemed suitable for public display and sale. At that stage the commonwealth censor had passed the book called Pictures for Sale: it had not been viewed by the South Australian Classification Council, as that body usually waits for a public complaint before reviewing a decision of the commonwealth censor. The police, who under the act have the power to confiscate the book, then requested the federal body to examine it. I understand that on 18 January 2001 the book was given an unrestricted classification. However, the police in this state were not content with this decision and sought to have it reviewed, as is their entitlement under the act. One must look at the act because I believe that complaints by one person are not sufficient.

The second hearing was held on 2 March 2001 and the South Australian police were represented by three solicitors; the managing director of Tower Books was also represented at the meeting; and the book was given a restricted licence. Miss Curtin has yet to be formally advised of this decision: three months after this saga she has yet to have the book returned to her. I understand that South Australia will now be the only place in the world where the book has a restricted licence.

An honourable member interjecting:

The Hon. CAROLYN PICKLES: Well, someone who does not have anything better to do. I think the comments made by the Minister for the Arts in relation to the police department (and I may be quoting her slightly inaccurately here), according to the newspaper columnist, are relevant: she said, `The police should get a life', and that is my view, too.

Certainly, under the act the police have the right to do this, but I would question the way they went about it. They had no complaints about any specific book. I invite anyone to walk into this store, because it would be obvious to anyone walking in that it is not a sleazy bookshop: it is a very high class one. It is located in the arts precinct and has been strongly supported by the minister and the government of this state, and Miss Curtin-

An honourable member interjecting:

The Hon. CAROLYN PICKLES: Well, the police still have the book and I am sure that they have had a jolly good look at it. It is the only book of its kind that Miss Curtin has in her store-

An honourable member interjecting:

The Hon. CAROLYN PICKLES: Yes, indeed. One might ask that there be better use of police time when one considers the crime in this state. I abhor the actions of the police department.