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Australia: Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella wants new advertising watchdog

Publish Date: 06 May 2011
Source: The Australian
By: Stephen Lunn

Australia's self-regulated advertising industry is failing to protect children from sexually suggestive billboard and TV ads, and a new statutory body should be established to hit offenders with big fines, a Liberal MP says. Source: The Daily Telegraph

AUSTRALIA's self-regulated advertising industry is failing to protect children from sexually suggestive billboard and TV ads, and a new statutory body should be established with power to hit offenders with big fines.

Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella last night warned the Advertising Standards Bureau it was missing the point in its rulings on sexual content of individual commercials when the damage to children was being done in "a thousand tiny cuts."

In a speech to the Australian Family Association in Melbourne, Ms Mirabella strayed from her industry and science shadow portfolio to let rip at "raunch culture" the advertisers that exploit it, and the industry body that oversees it.

"Even the most diligent parent cannot completely avoid the "sex sells" imagery that children interpret in a much different way than we adults do," she said.

"Do seven-year-olds really possess the ability to recognise that the sexually explicit pose of the woman wearing next to nothing is not a representation of reality, but an unfair and oppressive female stereotype designed to sell a product by appealing to base instincts and employing sly, undergraduate-style 'adult' humour?"

Ms Mirabella said industry self-regulation clearly isn't working, and in regard to outdoor billboards, for which there is House of Representatives inquiry in train, big changes should be made.

"The Advertising Standards Bureau has failed to protect our children from the content of these billboards. With its membership disproportionately containing more artists, actresses, journalists, academics and ex-politicians (Democrat and Labor) than in the wider community, it's perhaps not surprising that the Bureau's decisions have failed to align with community standards and expectations."

She called for a new statutory body, with "real powers to issue serious fines".

"Let's codify community standards. It seems bizarre that we've got a watchdog like the ACCC to protect small businesses from unfair competition, but nothing substantial to protect our children from harmful images and messages," Ms Mirabella said.


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http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/liberal-mp-wants-new-advertising-watchdog/story-e6frg6nf-1226051016905