Hugo Kelly writes

Sydney Morning Herald arts hackette Alexa Moses started her story “Diversity in doubt as censorship board looks to fill vacancies” last Thursday about the censorship board with this pithy par:

Banfield, Carroll, Clark, Fenton, Greene, Hunt, Sanderson,
Smith and Townsend. It sounds like a roll-call from Tom Brown’s School
Days. In fact, these are the names of the members of the Office of Film
and Literature Classification board, the people who make decisions
about which films and computer games Australians can see.

Yes, the classification board reeks a distinctly white bread odour,
despite its charter obligation to broadly represent the Australian
community and its multicultural make-up. So how did this situation come
about? It seems that, for some reason, the government has weeded out
ethnics from the Office of Film and Literature Classification board.

We spoke to one of the very few non-Anglos to have served on the
classification board in recent years. This board member served a
three-year term then applied, along with other colleagues, for a
three-year extension. Unusually, this member was called in for an
interview with then Attorney-General Daryl Williams.

“It was the most peculiar annal of my employment history,” says our
informant. The minister wanted to know how the board member voted on
particular controversial films. The result? “I was not re-appointed,
despite amply fulfilling the criteria.”

Now the government has advertised for new board members, offering
$91,680 including superannuation. According to the A-G’s department:
“All applicants need to compete on the basis of merit.” But there are
other considerations, including applicants’ community involvement,
their gender and location.

We asked two former board members to give advice for potential
applicants: “Successful applicants will need to work the politics very
carefully. It helps to be a yes person. That means getting along with
the government, and the OFLC director, failed Liberal preselection
candidate Des Clark.”

And, our ex-insiders advise you should work the local politics, too.
The final make-up of the board depends on deals made between the states
and territories – each region is keen to get its people on to the
board.

Think you fit the job description? Check out the censorship job opportunities available online here.

We’ll keep an eye on appointments and see whether the OFLC and their
political masters respond to the publicity. Will non-Anglo names pop up
on the censorship board?

Peter Fray

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