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Aussie Anti-Porn Legislator Embroiled in Porn-Viewing Scandal

Rev. Fred Niles said the viewing, which did not really happen, was done by a senior researcher at his direction

Aussie Anti-Porn Legislator Embroiled in Porn-Viewing Scandal

NEW SOUTH WALES, Australia—Australia’s answer to Pat Robertson, the Reverend Fred Nile, a member of the Christian Democrat Party and the longest serving member of the New South Wales Parliament, is embroiled in a scandal that may sound eerily familiar to American fans of political hypocrisy.

The virulent opponent of pornography, gay rights, Muslim immigration to Australia and pagan weddings (go figure) has been accused of visiting pornography and gambling websites on his parliament computers. He is denying the charges, but some are calling his excuses weak at best, disingenuous at worst.

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The controversy began with the issuance of a report by the Department of Parliamentary Services, which had conducted an internet history audit of government computers that said Nile’s office had accessed adult websites approximately 200,000 times. Coming on the heels of a similar revelation that resulted in the resignation of New South Wales Ports and Waterways Minister Paul McLeay, the news has sent shockwaves through the government.

Thursday, in response to the growing scandal, Nile held a press conference during which he denied ever viewing pornography, but admitted that he had instructed his staff to research the issue for legislation that he said he was considering introducing.

“I have not accessed or viewed any of those sites,” he said, “but my researcher has. My senior researcher has conducted a lot of research into the pornography industry at my request, because we have bills dealing with increasing the ban on pornographic materials … particularly following through The Sex Party, Eros Foundation and others. Through those sites, they do have links to hardcore pornographic material.

“They have not viewed hardcore pornography,” he stressed. “They’ve simply accessed those organizations, and they have links to this hardcore pornography. And once you see the link, you only need to just identify the link, and that’s what we’re doing.”

The researcher, he added, only opened up the site to see what was on it and then closed it right away, without actually seeing the hardcore pornography.

The Sex Party responded immediately to the situation, in a series of press releases that both supported Nile’s right to view pornography and called for his resignation “over his appalling response to the situation.”

Sex Party president and recent Senate candidate Fiona Patten took issue with Nile’s “excuse” to blame the porn viewing on research looking for “criminal links” off the Sex Party website, but added he should “get over his guilt and shame” over and explain exactly what sort of sites he and his staff were surfing.

“Most adult sites that originate in the U.S. or Europe contain large amounts of Refused Classification (RC) material because they do not meet the tight criteria of Australian X-rated guidelines”, she said. “Those conducting the audit should not be using the word ‘porn’ to refer to any of the 200,000 sites that the Rev Nile’s office is reported to have accessed. They should be telling us if they were R-rated, X-rated or RC. This gives us a truer picture of the type of material that he was looking at.”

The NSW taxpayer funded this research, she added, and she wants to have a look at it. “I’d like to publicly debate him about the links between religious organizations and child sex abuse [versus] the links to sex shops illegally selling classified X-rated films in NSW.”

But in another press announcement, the Sex Party took an even harsher stance, saying Nile’s claim of having never seen pornography is at odds with press accounts from a decade ago.

“Fiona Patten said that during 1985/6, Rev Nile brought UK moral’s campaigner, Mary Whitehouse to Australia to accompany him on a national tour of state Premiers,” the announcement claimed, adding that together they lobbied to ban the sale of the newly formed X Classification which had been introduced at a federal level by Labor Attorney General Gareth Evans.

“Media reports at the time documented how Rev Nile and Mrs Whitehouse would sit down and show a sample of the new X rating to the Premiers and then ask them was this the sort of ‘video nasty’ that they wanted in their state,” said Patten. “One by one the state premiers fell to the moralistic rhetoric and the sample films that Rev Nile showed them. Unless he turned his head away during the viewing, he has some explaining to do about this.”

She added that if one could believe Rev Nile’s claim, it would mean he had had X-rated films banned in all states without even seeing one. “Either he has lied about his claim to seeing X-rated material or he has banned a genre of films that he has not even had the courage to watch,” she said. "Either way his credibility is in tatters and he should resign for misleading the Parliament." 

Regarding the Aug. 21 federal elections, the Herald Sun reported, “[The Australian Sex Party] outpolled several more prominent minor parties and came within about 10,000 votes of Family First for the Senate in Victoria. And in the Northern Territory, it managed to secure more than 5 percent of the vote in one Senate position, qualifying for more than $3,700 in taxpayer funds.

“The Sex Party secured a total of 54,744 first preference votes in the Senate in Victoria,” it added, compared with One Nation's 8804 and the Australian Democrats on 11,774."

Patten told the paper that the support was encouraging, and ensured that the party would participate in future elections.

Information about Australian elections can be found at http://elections.uwa.edu.au/.






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