2011 a Senate Committee Inquiry into the Australian film and literature
classification scheme considered a proposal that all works of art should be
subject to classification.
opposed this proposal as an unnecessary and extreme measure and made a
presentation at the public hearing of the Inquiry emphasising the importance of
artistic freedom of expression and the constraints such classification could
place on artists.
the then Attorney-General Robert McClelland asked the Australian Law Reform
Commission (ALRC) to conduct a review of the National Classification Scheme,
the first of its kind in 15 years.
precursor to the review, the ALRC released an issues paper, which posed a
series of questions relating to what content should be classified and how the
classifications should be regulated. Of particular pertinence to the visual
arts sector were questions about whether it was appropriate and feasible to
extend the existing classification system to apply to art works, in all of
their forms, before they are exhibited.
review recommendations were formally considered by the Federal Government. It
was decided not to expand the scope of the Classification system to include
the National Classification Board will continue to undertake assessments of
artworks if asked (as in the Bill Henson case). If the work is given a Refused
Classification rating, the work is not able to be publicly shown. Other ratings
may require certain restraints to be exercised to prevent access by people in
certain age categories.
ALRC’s National Classification Scheme Review outcomes