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Don Chipp – Customs Minister – “Inside the Canberra Press Gallery: Life in the Wedding Cake of Old Parliament House” – Rob Chalmers 

May 28th, 2012 · No Comments · Art, Australiana, Culture, Humour, Politics

Minister for Customs and Excise in the Gorton ministry after the 1969 election, Chipp presented himself as the small-‘l’ liberal who believed in loosening up strict rules relating to the behaviour and rights of citizens. He made a name for himself by removing the ban on the sale of various books, such as Portnoy’s Complaint. Yet, to show that he was a man of family values who would not tolerate pornography, he ordered customs to crack down on imported porn. Further, to emphasise his relentless pursuit of porn, he had pornographic books and magazines seized by customs available in his office so that MPs could see for themselves what a grand job he was doing. Male MPs from both sides of politics visited his office regularly to view the porn, particularly the graphic pictorial material—of course just to be informed of the great job the minister was doing. His private secretary at the time was a young customs officer, Trevor Wright, a friend of mine. The seized porn, sent across to Chipp’s office from customs, was the responsibility of Trevor and, if an MP desired to view the disgusting material, it was produced from Trevor’s desk drawer. He noted that many MPs, some of whom portrayed themselves as high-minded adherents of the Christian faith, appeared regularly seeking to view the latest porn. Chipp also arranged showings of pornographic films seized by customs in its tireless efforts to save the population from exposure to lewd and degrading material. These films were shown over the dinner adjournments at the theatrette of the National Library—close to Parliament House. The showings were free—naturally attracting many with a close interest in the work of customs.

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