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Too Rude for Queensland

Censorship has a long history. Usually imposed by a government agency, it is regularly used in times of war, and to prevent publication of details that might prejudice a trial. But most print items banned in Australia have been found to allegedly offend community standards.

Books, magazines, comics, films and games have been and are banned in Australia by the Australian Government, primarily through its power to prohibit imports. But the Queensland Government also got into censorship, usually because the publication or film was deemed rude. From the 1950s to the 1980s some comics and magazines were banned that today seem tame, including Playboy magazine. There are a number of examples in this exhibition of books and magazines that you were not allowed to sell in Queensland even though some could be readily bought in other states for example the American edition of Playboy magazine. In 1969 an actor was arrested for swearing in Alex Buzo’s play Norm and Ahmed even though the dialogue was central to the script. Queensland even banned both the Australian and American LP records from the musical Hair because of rude lyrics in a couple of the songs.

A small number of items in Queensland were banned as their ideology was repugnant to the government of the day. The Queensland Literature Board of Review banned The Little Red School Book (1972), as ‘a subversive reference book for young people’, an invitation to ‘anarchy’ in the schools giving advice about sex and drugs.

The cover of Love Illustrated, featuring a 50s illustration of a young couple on a ski slope.

Love illustrated, no. 9, c1950, Barmour Publications, Sydney, John Oxley Library, SLQ, MMS ID 9915749214702061

Detail of cover for Age of consent, by Norman Lindsay. A bearded man in his 40s or 50s looms over a young teenage girl.
Little Red Schoolbook,1972  Soren Hansen & Jesper Jensen; translated from the Danish by Berit Thornbery  John Oxley Library, SLQ  MMS ID 996945824702061
Playboy, compilation June 1959, December 1967, September 1972  Acquired for exhibition.  John Oxley Library, SLQ
A family dressed in 50s clothes gather around a 50s television, watching from the couch.