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Canberra Pornography

By lloydchristmas - 22 February 2009 41

Due to my poor Googling skills I decided to bring a query to the always entertaining RiotACT members.

Why is Canberra, or more specifically Fyshwick, known as a porn hub? What exactly are the laws surrounding porn in Canberra? For example, is it legal to produce porn or just distribute?


(Comic by Panama)

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41 Responses to
Canberra Pornography
Piratemonkey 10:15 pm
22 Feb 09

It is illegal to sell hardcore porn pretty much all over the country whereas owning it is legal. Canberra is the only place where it can be sold legally. Therefore before the internet took all the fun Fyshwick was the mail order shopping hub for porn in Australia.

Bobbi 10:17 pm
22 Feb 09

No idea about the production side of things, but it is legal to sell X rated films in the ACT (and I think the same applies to Northern Territory?) but not elsewhere in Australia. I think Fyshwick is more famous then Mitchell or Hume simply because it has existed longer. A link describing some background info on censorship legislation below.

Vic Bitterman 11:22 pm
22 Feb 09

You can download porn off the internet these days, you know. Shopfronts only exist these days to sell hardware. Which, can also be ordered (not downloaded) off the internet.

geetee 11:44 pm
22 Feb 09

Ten years ago when my department had to produce thousands of videotapes (remember them kids??) I found it funny that we used one of the porn video sites set up to dub tons of tapes at the same time. Always kinda hoped there’d be a stuff up and someone would get to “Debbie does Dickson” in the mailbox rather than “The ATO – your friend for life” (or similar)..

taninaus 6:30 am
23 Feb 09

I am pretty sure there is some rule that states that these type of shops – and the person to person establishments as well – can only be set up in industrial areas. The exeption is the one on northborne in the Melbourne building.

neanderthalsis 9:06 am
23 Feb 09

Oddly enough though, QLD has more sex shops per head of population than any other state. It has, by latest reports, more sex shops than Coles supermarkets. Eros has even made the unprecedented call for the State govt to regulate the industry. It is illegal, but at most of these stores you can buy porn dvds, the police just turn a blind eye to it.

Woody Mann-Caruso 9:08 am
23 Feb 09

I think the question is: why Fyshwick (and the other industrial estates), as opposed to, say, major shopping centres? Are there zoning laws in the ACT dictating where you can sell adult material? Can the places closer to urban centres (eg Northbourne Ave) sell R-rated material, or is that restricted to their more distant cousins?

old canberran 9:38 am
23 Feb 09

It’s not a recent thing either. Back in the early 60’s when I moonlighted as a cabbie there were several brothels in Fyshwick and a very popular one in the Ainslie shops. Around the same time porn video sales became legal in the ACT and a very busy industry came into being as an adjunct to the brothel business, mail order videos. This led to the introduction of sex shops some of which provided all the services under one roof. I suspect Fyshwick became the hub because of cheaper rents.

p1 11:01 am
23 Feb 09

I suspect Fyshwick became the hub because of cheaper rents.

Yup, I think it is a combination of Rent costs, the abillity to choose opening ours, and customers not wanting to run into their mum comming out of the dentist while going into smut-R-us.

Probably can get away with slightly more descriptive signs in comercial areas also.

monomania 11:26 am
23 Feb 09

For a number of years there was a brothel at Cooleman Court above where Domino’s is just along the corridor from my doctor’s surgery. Discrete without signage other than the red light. I don’t know if it caused any serious problem, but it either closed down or was moved.

duchess_tara 11:29 am
23 Feb 09

I think that is a pretty obvious answer, Fishwick is the largest industrial section within Canberra so of course people are/were going to set shop up there. Hume has always been an iffy subject as to if it would really take off as a thriving industrial area. There was at one stage two adult stores in Hume, now there is only one. Mitchell has only one adult store now too. If you did set up shop in Fyshwick really you wouldn’t even have to advertise because the larger stores that look like a’Woolworthes’ already pump a lot of money into advertising. And the majority of people will drive around and visit all the stores in one night.

However, recently business in Fyshwick has dropped, one store has since closed down due to the opening of the Calvista outlet. Calvista is a major supplier to pretty much everyone and they set up a factory outlet selling items at lower prices then the RRP. Sure the products they sell are the older, unpopular cheaper items that don’t sell very well in normal stores, But when you tell people they can get $1 dvds of course it will pull the crowds even though it will leave the customer dissatisfied with their purchase. Really anyone with half a brain should be able to tell if your only going to spend $1 on an adult DVD it is going to be crap with poor production, poor sets, poor editing, poor actors. Not to mention 20 years out of date. But everyone loves to think they are getting a bargain and so the store has done moderately well. The supplier saw an opportunity in Fyshwick, but due to this I think we will see less stores opening up there…..I think we may see more adult clubs opening up instead.

Club X that is located on Northbourne only has a limited selection of items they can sell. It is an exception because of this.

Geetee – I think you mean ‘Debbie does Dallas’ not Debbie does Dickson. A new production of this movie has come out but wasn’t a huge hit like the original.

Yes it is legal in Canberra to sell Adult movies. But all these legal movies have to be classified which means the government views the movies before they hit the shelves and put a pass or fail on it. Often only 2 mins is edited out of the movie, sometimes an entire scene. We can get fairly hardcore dvds but specialty items are often unclassified. Even things such as Henti is unclassified and very hard to get legally.

Stores in NSW, QLD will still sell dvds illegally. Because when you tell someone they can’t have something, naturally they want it more so the demand and sales of dvds in other states is so high that it out ways the numerous fines the adult stores get. But of course the government is really only allowed to turn a blind eye for so long. As soon as more stores pop up in these states the government will go and bust up a store so much so they need to close down..really just an endless cycle of cat and mouse.

There are a few stores in Perth and Adelaide that only sell adult toys and no dvds whatsoever. These stores have managed to do very well due to excellent advertisement and marketing.

I think it is absolutely ridiculous that adult movies be illegal in other states. If the government would regulate the dvds everywhere I think it would have a damn positive outcome. Less downloading illegal, harmful, distasteful crap from the internet for starters….

Woody Mann-Caruso – We could sell R rated dvds but no one wants to buy them. Nothing but breasts can be seen in R rated movies. You can Rent R rated Pornos at your local video shop.

Bitterman – Many of the newer DVDs, especially those released in high definition are close to impossible for the average person to burn onto their computer. And dvds are still quite collectible. Of course the internet is a playground for poor quality free porn which is why you will see marketing such as special two disk sets, and special features and porn stars doing more traveling and appearances to keep the sales of dvds up.


p1 11:39 am
23 Feb 09

Thanks for that analysis or the market place.

I suspect that the pr0n market displays very similar statistics to the “G”, “PG”, etc, DVD market. A certain amount of downloading, but mostly just the internet making people aware of what is out there to buy.

Considereing that there isn’t so much of the downloading of new releases which are still at the cinema, it adult industries are probably less effected overall.

eally anyone with half a brain should be able to tell if your only going to spend $1 on an adult DVD it is going to be crap with poor production, poor sets, poor editing, poor actors.

What do you expect for what the “actors” muct be being paid.

tylersmayhem 12:21 pm
23 Feb 09

Nothing but breasts can be seen in R rated movies. You can Rent R rated Pornos at your local video shop.

Hi Tara – this is simply not true. I’ve seen plenty of R rated films in the cinema with the occasional minge shot (an old example for instance is The Devils Advocate), but there could be quite a hefty list of movies written which show plenty more than breasts.

AG Canberra 12:28 pm
23 Feb 09

Hows this for a related job….a porn viewer.

The Office of Film and Literature Classification employs reviewers to view all movies sold in Aus prior to their release. The reviewers all spend approx 90% of their time watching porn (and at the time got paid about $75k for the pleasure). The rest of their time is spent watching mainstream movies and reading mainstream magazines. The reviewers come from all walks of life and are supposed to represent a broad cross section of the community. More recently there have been 18-25 year olds employed as game reviewers. They need to play every scene to confirm the rating the makers have suggested……

On another topic – didn’t the ACT gov tax the videos/DVD’s as they were sold?

Clown Killer 12:33 pm
23 Feb 09

I once worked with a lady who had spent some time with the Office of Film and Literature Classification. Her recollections of her time spent there didn’t strike me as being all that great, mainly becuse there’s apparently an ocean of low-grade crap from all genres that needs viewing.

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