20. Australia Post removes Lolita and other Penguin Classics from their shelves.

Popular Penguin edition of Lolita

Popular Penguin edition of Lolita

PostShop outlets pull Popular Penguin titles such as Lolita, The History of Sexuality and The Delta of Venus from their shelves after customer complaints. Why? A spokesperson said the titles were inappropriate for a mainstream shop like Australia Post. I guess libraries and Dymocks aren’t mainstream.

19. Australia Post refuses to mail postcards with girly bits.

Mail-sorting staff would not process postcards featuring lifelike female genital images to promote artist Greg Taylor’s exhibition Cunts and other Conversations — part of the Adelaide Fringe Festival.


Cover your eyes

Police, Adelaide City Council and festival organisers later received complaints about Taylor’s promotional material which found itself plastered around town. Gabrielle Walsh from the Australian Family Association said Taylor ‘shouldn’t be allowed to force these images and words upon us in public for all to view, including children‘ and police investigated. Whether it was the images or the use of the word ‘cunt’ that got them so fired up is anyone’s guess.

18. Brisbane billboard brings in more than just business.

The owner of Brisbane gentleman’s club BConfidential received a death threat and furious complaints after a billboard was erected advertising the club. The sign read: ‘Tell your wife you’ll be late’.

A small victory.

Now on one of Brisbane's busiest roads.

According to the news reports one woman phoned in and said the owner should be put in a house with no doors and no windows and burnt to death, while a mother emailed the club’s manager stating “That I will not rest until this hideous message to decent society is removed by the powers that be. Hopefully your business and the sleazebag that created this campaign will not ever be able to publicly advertise your services again“.

The Advertising Standard Bureau dismissed all complaints (less than 20) and as a result the owners of BConfidential erected the same billboard on one of Brisbane’s busiest roads.

17. Nando’s ad too spicy

The Advertising Standards Bureau upheld community complaints against a tame Nando’s TV ad which featured a woman who can’t find her chips because her breasts are blocking her view. Watch it here.

16. ‘They Shake Me’ baby t-shirts rock the cradle

Child abuse or just crude?

Child abuse or crude?

The Cotton On Kids clothing line was hammered for selling baby clothes with slogans such as ‘They Shake Me’.

Australian blogger Mia Freedman (Mamamia) was fuming:



Internet, I am outraged, disgusted and distressed. I am a customer of Cotton On Kids. A long-time, loyal customer who buys a STACK of clothes there for my kids and who willingly endorses their products FOR FREE whenever I am interviewed by the media and asked where I buy my kids clothes.

Cotton On apologised and stopped selling the line of clothing.

15. No Red Bull thanks, we’re from New South Wales.

In response to reports about five year 7 students who suffered side effects including dizziness and nausea after consuming high energy drinks on their way to school, NSW Primary Industries Minister took it upon himself to find a way for the government to take energy drinks with high levels of caffeine off the shelves. (Update 04/01/10: As of October 2009 NSW removed five high caffeine drinks from sale)

14. Queensland Government bans skateboarding at night.

Anna Bligh is no stranger to this blog and her team made an appearance or two again this year (possibly for the most absurd reason yet). The QLD Government banned skateboarding, scooter riding and rollerblading at night to protect… well no one is sure who, it just had to be done. Transport Minister Rachel Nolan said she wasn’t anti-fun and ‘this is just as much about common courtesy as it is about common sense.’ She was unable to provide evidence it was needed and offenders are now slapped with a $40 fine.

13. Liberal MP wants ancient drinking board game banned.

Pass Out the board game

Pass Out the board game

Liberal MP Steve Irons demanded a board game that he said encouraged alcohol abuse be banned from sale in Australia. The game in question, Pass-out, has players travel around the game board taking drinks and reciting tongue twisters and has been around in board game form since at least 1962. According to Refused-Classification.com, the game was called in by the Director of the Classification Board and was rated Category 1 on April 15th 2009.

12. Greater Union stops screening Aussie gang film in NSW.

Greater Union stopped showing The Combination (MA15+) in their NSW cinemas after ‘violence flared’ among patrons in one screening at Parramatta. Whether the violence was related to the film wasn’t confirmed.

11. North Korean artists refused Australian Visa.

The Australian Government refused to make a visa exemption for six artists from North Korea to visit Brisbane and speak about their art at the Queensland Art Gallery. The Department of Foreign Affairs released a statement saying the studio where the artists work ‘reportedly produces almost all of the official artworks in North Korea, including works that clearly constitute propaganda.’ The art was still shown and the artists were allowed to speak in other countries where their work was exhibited.

10. NSW Police go after Aussie Graffiti mags.

After Wentworthville Police submitted two graffiti magazines to the Australia Classification Board, one is refused classification and another rated M. Update: The ACB’s classification database originally stated the magazine Death From Above #1 had been refused classification. We have now been informed this magazine was not classified RC and the ACB’s website has since been corrected.

9. More and more adult DVD bans.

Girls Who Like Girls, Girls in Need and a bonus DVD attached to a Hustler magazine were just a small portion of the adult films banned in 2009. An adult film can be banned in Australia if it contains fetishes, even one as common as spanking.

8. Books with incest pulled from Queensland libraries, banned.

Author Charles Kevin’s self-published books Sibling Love and Bet and Zak which feature ‘graphic’ descriptions of sexual relationships between mother and son and brother and sister were pulled from South East Queensland Library shelves after complaints.

Jan Richards from the Australian Library and Information Association said libraries believed that people should be able to read what they want to read with a degree of privacy.

‘However the issue of children accessing inappropriate material is a very real one and we all have systems in place whereby we would stop a child from taking something that was inappropriate, but at the same time we think that there is a very important role for parents to play’ she said.

Richards said it was unlikely that all of the libraries holding Mr Kevin’s novels will pull them from the shelves, but both books were later banned by the Classification Board following an application from the Department of Justice and the Attorney General.

Books with graphic descriptions of murder remain on library shelves.

7. Freeview TV ad parody disappears from YouTube.

A parody of the Freeview TV commercial was yanked from YouTube but why? Freeview Marketing Manager Liz Howarth denied they had made a complaint but Google soon revealed they had received a DMCA takedown notice from lawyers acting on behalf of Freeview Australia Limited. Watch it here.

6. Kevin Rudd’s war on The Chaser.

ABC’s The Chaser War On Everything offended Kevin Rudd and half of Australia for airing a skit about terminally ill children. Mr Rudd said The Chaser team should hang their heads in shame and that it had gone too far. The show was suspended, but calls for it to be axed were ignored and it soon returned.

5. Kyle and Jackie O.

Kyle Sandilands

Kyle Sandilands

The Kylie and Jackie O Show was suspended after airing a segment in which a 14-year-old girl was strapped to a lie detector and questioned by her mother, Sandilands and Jackie O about her past experiences with sex and drugs — A recipe for disaster with the child admitting she was raped at the age of 12. There was a national outcry and legitimate concerns about the treatment (or exploitation) of children for entertainment were raised. However, many of the attacks focused more on silencing Sandilands and campaigning to remove him from the airwaves.

4. Abby Winters raided, cleared, charged.

The popular Australian-operated adult website Abby Winters was raided by police in June 2009 after The Herald Sun provided police with ‘a dossier of information’ about the allegedly illegal porn the site had ‘churned out in Melbourne since about 2000′.

The site’s CEO Garion Hall issued Somebody Think Of The Children with a statement confirming no charges were laid.

Confiscated DVD titles were submitted to the classification board by Victoria Police for review and all were classified X18+. None were Refused Classification.

However, in December 2009 Hall was charged with 54 counts of making objectionable films (see What is an objectionable film in Victoria) for gain and possessing a commercial quantity of objectionable films. The Herald Sun also reports he has been charged with child pornography offences after police ‘seized footage of allegedly illegal sex acts’.

Hall commented on the Abby Winters forum that as the matter is before the courts he is unable to comment other than it’s business as usual.

3. Censors Vs MUFF.

The Australia Classification Board refused to give the Melbourne Underground Film Festival an exemption to screen Jennifer Bell’s short film Matinee. MUFF organisers were outraged that Australia’s censors had sought fit to ban ‘Matinée’ for the sole reason that it depicts actual sex despite being ‘set within a relationship based on love and mutual desire’.

The film’s director also wrote a letter to the ACB, stating:

‘The sexual relationship portrayed by the characters Mariah and Daniel in Matinée is not only a consensual, emotional and nuanced relationship, but their sex plays an important role in the story of the film’.

The censors didn’t care.

2. The year of banned games.

A screen capture from Left 4 Dead 2

A screen capture from Left 4 Dead 2

All of the following video games were refused classification, with Aliens vs. Predator lucky enough to be reclassified MA15+ after review.

  • Aliens vs. Predator
  • Crimecraft
  • Left 4 Dead 2
  • Necrovision
  • Risen
  • Sexy Poker

South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinston also called for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 to be refused classification, but was unsuccessful.

1. Chris Illingworth charged for uploading video which is later rated just MA15+.

After a lengthy campaign throughout 2008 and 2009 by Queensland Police to prosecute 61 year-old Sunshine Coast resident Chris Illingworth with child abuse offences for uploading a video to a website of man swinging a baby, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions dropped all charges in September.

The saga began in 2008 when Illingworth’s home was raided by police after he uploaded a video of what is believed to be a training film for a Russian circus family. He was charged with accessing and uploading child-abuse material and faced a maximum of 20 years jail. The Australian Classification Board later classified the video as MA15+ (suitable for those over the age of fifteen and the same rating as the Jim Carrey comedy Me, Myself and Irene) and the charges were dropped shortly after. The decision highlighted that the Queensland Police’s relentless pursuit of Illingworth was completely unwarranted.