Committees – Environment and Communications References Committee

Senator BABET (Victoria—United Australia Party Whip) (18:56): Obviously, I rise in support of Senator Roberts’s motion. I have read the book Welcome to Sex. I’ve read the book and, let me tell you in this place right now, it is filth; it is degeneracy; it is disgusting. My problem with the book is not just that it speaks to children; it’s that in our society today we have become so comfortable with sexualising children—with sexualising our most vulnerable—and I will tell you all right now that it is wrong.

We must protect children. It has become so apparent that the current system is inadequate. Publishers are only required to submit a book for classification if they themselves believe the book may require it. It’s akin to—I don’t know—a Scouts honour type of system. Scouts honour: I promise it’s all good; don’t worry about it. Well, mate, it’s not all good, because we’ve seen the content in this book and other books, which I’m sure some of my fellow senators will talk about after I am done with my contribution.

Publishers are releasing books which are inappropriate for children. We all know that; that’s clear. And children are being exposed to this material, which is obscene. It’s degenerate; it’s filthy. I’m going to keep harping on about it because that’s exactly what it is. I believe that penalties must apply to publishers who fail to meet their obligations under the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995. They’ve got to feel the pain. These people need to be punished and penalised. They’re degenerates.

Since my first day in this place, my office has been inundated, swamped and overwhelmed with calls from concerned parents, grandparents, teachers—every one relating to publications that are accessible to children that they deem to be unsuitable. I say to people at home watching this broadcast on social media: if you don’t think that there is a war being waged against children in this nation right now, well, you haven’t been paying attention, or maybe you just haven’t visited your local bookstore or gone to your local library lately. There is a war on for the souls and the minds of this nation’s children. That’s what’s going on.

I obviously believe in preserving the innocence of children. When I first became aware of the inappropriate book titled Welcome to Sex, which my colleague Senator Malcolm Roberts spoke about previously, I decided that, as a society, we had to draw a line in the sand. We had to say, ‘Enough is enough. Stop coming after the kid.’

This book is obviously marketed at preteen children, but, as was mentioned previously, the author, Yumi Stynes, said that she would be happy for a mature eight-year-old to read the book. A mature eight-year-old does not exist.

I bought a copy of that book myself, and I can tell you right now that there are things that I as a grown adult learnt from that book—and I can never unlearn them. It was disgusting. It’s degeneracy. This book talks about all kinds of sex acts, and it provides instructions and graphic illustrations on how to complete these adult sex acts. I won’t name them, because I want this video to be seen by people and not to be censored on YouTube, Facebook, X and Instagram. I want people to see it, so I can’t mention the sex acts, but they’re that bad.

Adults: you can do whatever the heck you like; nobody cares what you do. You’re over 18. You’re an adult—each to their own. But why are Australian retail stores selling material like this aimed at children? Obviously, and most importantly, why isn’t the book classified? That’s my issue. Classify that book. Publishers have to do their jobs, and, if they don’t do their jobs, they’ve got to face harsh penalties. We cannot put a price on children’s innocence. Children’s innocence must be protected. Let them be kids for as long as possible. Let them enjoy their childhoods. Don’t fill their heads with garbage.

On 19 July I wrote to the Labor Party communications minister, Michelle Rowland, expressing my immediate concern about this book. ‘Why is it unclassified, Minister Rowland?’ Minister Rowland hasn’t replied to my letter. I’m not surprised. Does Minister Rowland care about children? I certainly hope so. Minister Rowland, reply to my letter. Show that you care. The title itself, let alone the harmful content, should have prompted the publishers to submit the book for classification. There is the loophole right there. It’s up to them to determine whether they should submit their own book for classification, and that needs to change. On 21 July I wrote a similar letter to the deputy secretary of the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts, who oversees the operation of Australian classifications. They are the entity responsible for the classification of children’s books. I questioned if they would exercise their authority to call in this book and other books, and I have yet to receive a reply from them also.

This book and all the other books—all the other filth and garbage out there, all the other indoctrination of our children out there, all those publications that seek to sexualise kids—have been met with public outcry. It is clearly not in line with what the public expects and not in line with community standards. This is just one of many books that requires urgent review. The current classification system obviously needs reforming and strengthening. We can all agree on that, I hope. Let’s not play party politics with the innocence of children, because that’s rubbish. Let’s not do that anymore. It needs reforming. We must not allow publishers to continue to release material targeted at prepubescent and preteen children. We can’t allow them to do it. It’s adult content. Obviously, I commend Senator Roberts for his motion. I and the entirety of the United Australia Party stand with him. If you’re a member of the United Australia Party, and you don’t stand with me and Malcolm Roberts right here and right now, cancel your membership, because we don’t want you in the party. Go and join the Labor Party. Go and join the Greens. Maybe even go and join the Liberal Party. You’re not welcome in the UAP. The UAP will not stand for this garbage.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again—

Senator Hanson: Hear, hear!

Senator BABET: thank you, Senator Hanson—leave the kids alone. Stop sexualising children. To my friends and colleagues in the Liberal Party, you’ve got to stand up. You’ve got to stand for something, because right now, guys and girls, the public sees you as Labor lite. That’s why you keep losing elections and why you will continue to lose in the future. You’ve got to stand for something. I’ve read your ‘we believe’ statement, a tour de force in freedom, in what’s good and right in the world and in conservative values. All you need to do is stick to your ‘we believe’ statement, because, if you won’t stick to your ‘we believe’ statement, don’t worry, the UAP is here. We’re going to nip away at you and take every darn seat you have, eventually—not today, but in the future. You guys have got to stand up. If you don’t stand up for kids, that’s the end of you. This is it, your line in the sand. Forget about the Greens and the Labor Party. They’re cooked; we know that. It’s up to you guys, and, if you don’t do it, I will.