June 30th 2018

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY NSW electricity grid now at 'crisis point'

EDITORIAL China's pivotal role in Trump-Kim summit

CANBERRA OBSERVED Throwing our 8ยข in the ring over sale of ABC

OPINION Why populism has become popular among the populace

MEDIA Ramsay Centre gets all that' left from ABC's Drum

ENERGY Solar panels leave hidden carbon footprint

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson conviction conundrum

ENERGY Don't let our waste go to waste: energise it

OPINION We've moved from low standards to no standards

LITERATURE AND CULTURE Christian humour through the ages: Dante, Chaucer and Cervantes

ECONOMICS Trump, China, the WTO and world trade

WHY BREXIT? A tight little island


MUSIC Contrary emotions: Following and leading the beat

CINEMA Incredibles 2: Just the average family of superheroes

BOOK REVIEW The main driver of our foreign policy

BOOK REVIEW Commitment at risk of obliteration



EDITORIAL By-elections a trial run for next federal election

Books promotion page

We've moved from low standards to no standards

by Nick Goiran

News Weekly, June 30, 2018

Last year the West Australian Public Transport Authority (PTA) received 18 complaints about 25 Transperth buses displaying the “Feel the Future” Sexpo 2017 advertisement that raised $24,082.50 revenue for the state government.

Contractor APN Outdoor Group Ltd is required to ensure that all displayed advertisements comply with the standards set by the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB), an independent body that reviews compliance with the Australian Association of National Advertisers Codes of Ethics and Practice. However, in response to the many complaints about the approved Sexpo advertisement, the PTA requested that the licensee remove these advertisements.

Which of these two ads
is the truly shocking
and scandalous one?

Around the same time, Emily’s Voice, a not-for-profit organisation supporting women facing an unplanned or crisis pregnancy, tried to advertise their website, “notbornyet.com”, on Perth buses. The website helps women gain information about their support options during an unplanned pregnancy. APN Outdoor, however, rejected the advertisement, without providing reasons for its decision and instead citing “contract confidentiality”.

The same scenario played out on commercial television with the Sexpo ad being aired while Channel 10 Perth decided that the Emily’s Voice ad featuring teen mum Nikki was too provocative for The Project and Offspring. It is absurd that the child-unfriendly advertisement was deemed suitable to appear on public buses and commercial television, while the child-friendly ad was considered unsuitable.

In Brisbane, a petition against the same Sexpo ad attracted more than 5000 signatures to ban advertising for the event on public buses.

The principal petitioner, Angela Burrows, had this to say: “As a mum of three young kids who regularly use public transport for school and sporting activities, I was appalled to hear that Sexpo 2017 was advertising on public buses across the country.

“I’m in touch with a bunch of other concerned mums who’ve seen similar ads on billboards right outside school gates. We have kids in primary school for goodness sake: we don’t want ads and links to watch ‘live sex’ forced on them!”

Meanwhile, as Australia enforces its standards by effectively hitting advertisers with a wet lettuce leaf, other jurisdictions are supporting parents rather than undermining them.

In May this year, the Missouri State Senate passed Senate Concurring Resolution No. 52 recognising “pornography as leading to individual and societal harms and recognise the need for education, prevention, research, and policy change at the community and societal level”.

It stated that pornography “perpetuates a sexually toxic environment” and that the internet is accelerating children’s exposure to increasingly “hardcore” material at younger ages.

This “may serve as children’s and youth’s sex education and may shape their sexual templates”; which “can lead to low self-esteem and body image disorders, an increase in problematic sexual activity at younger ages, and an increased desire among adolescents to engage in risky sexual behaviour”, as well as difficulties forming and keeping faithful relationships later in life.

Many health professionals argue that a sex-soaked culture with a constant bombardment of sexual messaging in everything from social media to music, television and advertising is taking an insidious toll on the emotional, psycho­logical and physical wellbeing of children and young adolescents.

Advocacy group Collective Shout has expressed its view clearly on this issue: “We’ve just had a government inquiry into the harms of pornography exposure to children. There is a wealth of research documenting the damaging impact of pornography on the attitudes and sexual practices of young people, including a massive increase in children as young as five entering treatment programs for sexually abusive behaviours, and child-on-child sexual assaults that have quadrupled in the last few years.

“Pornography has become a public health crisis, yet the Ad Standards Board continues to justify its promotion to children. ... It cannot be trusted to regulate itself. Enough is enough.”

I do wonder whether the message is getting through to Australian governments. You will forgive my scepticism, given that WA’s Transport Minister has taken to answering my further questions in Parliament with: “Providing this level of information is an extremely time consuming process, as the Member appears to be requesting a schedule of all advertisements appearing on every Transperth bus each month … I am not willing to commit further resources to provide this onerous amount of detail.”

Well, Minister, we can hardly ask you about a specific advertisement if you choose to hide them from Parliament! Perhaps the Minister wants concerned parents to set up camp outside bus depots and do her job for her by assessing each advertisement?

Nick Goiran is Shadow Minister for Child Protection; Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence in the WA Parliament.

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Last Modified:
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