Censorship

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Censorship
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Australia is a country which mostly practices Christianity.

Unlike the United States, United Kingdom or even New Zealand; Australia's law on censorship of all media is heavily regulated mostly on grounds of political and societal values that are appropriate in Australia.

Although Australia is considered to have both freedom of speech and a free and independent media, certain subject-matter is subject to various forms of government censorship, including matters of national security, judicial non-publication or suppression orders, defamation law, the federal Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth), film and literature (including video game) classification, and advertising restrictions.

General censorship[]

  • Australia tends to be sensitive to excessive use of drugs.
  • Any material non-compliant with Australian law are automatically refused classification. Materials are generally refused classification because of explicit violent or sexual content.
  • Pornography (X 18+) released in Australia must be compliant with federal and state laws because at the moment physical sales of hardcore porn is banned in all states except in territories such as the A.C.T (Australian Capital Territory, which is Canberra) and the Northern Territory (except regional aboriginal communities which was imposed under the Northern Territory National Emergency Response in 2007 by the Howard government).


TV censorship[]

The Australian Communications and Media Authority enforces regulations on television programming to promote programming which reflects Australian identity and cultural diversity. Commercial networks must adhere to content quotas of Australian programming, in the categories of Australian content quotas, children's content quotas, commercial broadcasting quotas, community broadcasting quotas, public broadcasting quotas and subscription television quotas. Regulations are based on the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.

The Australian Federal Government updated its programming requirements with an overhaul of local content quotas in late 2020.


  • Ojamajo DoReMi - banned for after the end of the second season for "sexual themes" present in later episodes.
  • Australia's Naughtiest Home Videos - was taken off air from Nine Network (at the late Kerry Packer's - the network owner - behest, who phoned the network operators, angrily shouting "Get that s**t out of air!" to them) during the airing of its first and only episode due to its sexual contents and sexual situations.
  • Underbelly - this Nine Network show was banned by judicial order in the state of Victoria (including its capital, Melbourne) and from the internet, due to one of the show's real-life subjects being was involved in an ongoing criminal trial, where there were serious concerns on jury tampering. After the conviction, the court forced Nine Network to heavily edit the episodes.
  • Peppa Pig - The episode "Spider's Web" was banned due to its plot about befriending spiders, which is discouraged in Australia because the country is home to the world's most venomous spiders (such as the funnel-web spider and the redback spider).
  • Thomas & Friends - The episode "Henry Spots Trouble", whose plot is about Henry having a fear of chickenpox, was taken out from ABC reruns after airing twice due to complaints from parents to the network that the episode was promoting an anti-vaccination campaign.

Movie censorship[]

In Australia, films are rated by the Office of Film and Literature Classification, which is essentially Australia's version of the MPAA, but unlike its American counterpart, it is a governmental organization. By law, the OFLC must classify a film before it can be sold or exhibited in any form in Australia, although it is legal to own most material that has been refused classification.

  • Between 1911 and the 1940s, any movie about the bushrangers (who were outlaws most active in the 19th century, and remembered in Australian folklore for their acts of robbery and violent crime, including murder.), such as The Story of the Kelly Gang and When The Kellys Rode, were banned in Australia.
  • The Great Blondino - This movie was censored in Australia by the customs department. A scene of Blondino stroking a rhinoceros horn required review by the chief censor, who took issue with a separate scene in which a girl uses profane language.
  • Many explicit films such as Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, Baise-moi, In a Glass Cage, Ken Park, La Blue Girl, Nekromantik, Vase de Noces, A Serbian Film, Pink Flamingos and the uncut version of Caligula were banned by the OFLC.
  • The OFLC came under fire due to its crackdown on LGBT-themed films, including Mysterious Skin, whose ban sparked protests from LGBT activists.
  • Gory films such as Cannibal Holocaust, Savage Man, Savage Beast and Faces of Death had at least their initial releases banned, with only the extended releases being rated (The original Faces of Death is available with a R18+ rating, while its sequels are banned)

Books censorship[]

Book censorship has existed in Australia since the 19th century.

In the 1960s censorship laws came under pressure when "three intrepid Sydney activists," Alexander William Sheppard, Leon Fink and Ken Buckley, locally published D. H. Lawrence's The Trial of Lady Chatterley (Sydney, 1965), which was at that time banned in Australia, and Sheppard then published James Baldwin's Another Country (1966). In 1970 Penguin Books had three copies of Portnoy's Complaint smuggled into Australia and then secretly printed 75,000 copies of the book.

In the early 1970s Don Chipp, the federal Minister of Customs and Excise, largely ended censorship of printed material in the country, with Australians being able to read such books as Portnoy’s Complaint and Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer.

In Australia, books containing erotica, those concerning illegal drugs, and those discussing end-of-life issues (particularly those discussing or condoning assisted suicide) are usually under attack.


The Peaceful Pill Handbook - this book about euthanasia, while originally rated by the OFLC as X18+ and approved for publication, was later banned on appeal from Australian Attorney General Phillip Ruddock and Right to Life NSW.

Internet censorship[]

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has the power to enforce content restrictions on Internet content hosted within Australia, and maintain a blocklist of overseas websites which is then provided for use in filtering software. The restrictions focus primarily on child pornography, sexual violence, and other illegal activities, compiled as a result of a consumer complaints process.


  • Encyclopedia Dramatica's page on Aboriginals is blocked on Australian search engines to comply with the country's anti-racial vilifcation law.
  • Australian Labor Party senator Stephen Conroy, since he was out of power, took cues from China and tried to push through a law that mandated ISPs block certain blacklisted pages entirely. The Liberal Party had a similar plan when they were in government.
  • In the wake of the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings, which happened in the neighboring New Zealand, internet provider Telstra banned access to 4Chan, 8Chan, Voat, and Liveleak, as the websites still held footage of the live terrorist attack.

Video games censorship[]

Originally there was no R18+ rating for video games, so any game which was too much for the MA15+ rating would either be refused classification or just be heavily edited. As with film, refusal of classification was tantamount to a ban. The R18+ rating would be introduced in 2013, which allowed Australian releases of the Mortal Kombat reboot and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge; however, the ratings board can still refuse a classification. Most gamers recur by importing these games (such as Grand Theft Auto V) from the neighbouring New Zealand in order to play them.

  • Fallout 3 - This game was banned due to its depiction of a static image of morphine as a buff-giving item. After the image removed through a worldwide edit, the game was released as a 15+.
  • Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude - unrated due to its sexually suggestive content.
  • Left 4 Dead 2 - The original release of this game was banned due to excessive violence - based on the German version, which was edited for a even stricter market. After the introduction of the R18+ rating, the original uncensored version would be given this rating
  • Manhunt - banned due to violent content, themes and behavior.
  • Postal - banned due to violent content, themes and behavior.
  • Alien vs Predator - originally, this game was banned. However, after appeal, this game was re-rated MA15+ and left uncut.
  • Singles Flirt Up Your Life - banned due to high sexual content which would have been too much for MA15+ rating.
  • Silent Hill: Homecoming - this game had the gory scenes toned down in order to get past the OLFC.
  • Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure - this game was banned due to its depiction of graffiti artists.
  • Blitz: The League - banned due to its depiction of anabolic steroids as stamina booster.

The following examples failed to make the cut even after the R18+ rating was introduced, proving that even R18+ has standards.

  • Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number - banned due to an implied rape scene that it could be turned off in the game's options menu, even if according to Dennaton Games, the scene was important as a part of the game's story, the developers accepted the ACB opinion and told to the fans to pirate the game themselves.
  • Saints Row IV - banned due to "interactive, visual depictions of implied sexual violence which are not justified by context", which referred to the Anal Probe weapon in-game and for "elements of illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards", which referred to "Alien narcotics" which gave the player superpowers. However, the anal probe weapon was instead released as a DLC in-game, leading to the Australian Classification Board being accused of double standards.
  • South Park: The Stick of the Truth - the game had similar reaction above about the anal probe scene, but in this case it was mostly because of the characters being minors. The scene was removed from Australian releases and the game was still rated R18+.
  • State of Decay - banned due to its depiction of drug use as health and stamina power-ups. The game was later re-submitted and re-classified R18+ after the drugs were changed to "vitamins".
  • Grand Theft Auto V - although the Federal Government was not involved, Target refused to sell the game after outcry about the player being able to kill prostitutes.
  • Gal*Gun: Double Peace and Senran Kagura: Estival Versus - both games were pulled from EB Games's stores and websites due to their sexualized gameplay, even if both games were rated R18+ in their uncensored releases.
  • Outlast II - accidentally banned as the developer sent an alpha of the game which contained "implied sexual violence" which was not meant to be in the final game. When the developer properly resubmitted the game, it was released uncensored and rated R18+.
  • We Happy Few - was initially banned due to the main objective of the game being drug use, much to the outrage of the Australian fans of the game, who accused the OFLC of being "sensitive" by banning the game as the board thought that banning the main collectable of the game (Joy) would influence the use of drugs. In response to the backlash, the ban was lifted and the game was rated R18+.
  • Disco Elysium - The Final Cut version of this game was banned due to depicting sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, and violence, as well as showing "revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency, and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults". While the original cut of the game had these contents, it was still sold in Australia due to it being a digital-only release, which not required submission to the Board, while The Final Cut was sold as physical copies in addition to digital, which required to be submitted to the Board. Eventually, the Australian Classification Board overturned its decision, as the game developers convinced the Review Board that the drug use was non-graphic, causing drawbacks for the player as well.
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