Take your partners: Media, government and public participation in the 1930s campaigns against censorship in Australia

Jennifer Bowen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Censorship has had a long tradition in Australia, affecting books, films, theatre and artworks. In the 1930s, opposition to it began to be organized: this was initially a reaction to the banning of imported print material on the grounds of 'indecency' or sedition, but it was followed by protests against the political interference of radio broadcasts. These campaigns for freedom of expression on the air and in print invoked similar principles, as well as sharing leadership and tactics; while newspapers alerted the public to the issue of censorship, such commentary was also deployed to influence perceptions of the changing media landscape brought about by the development of public broadcasting. This article argues that 1930s activism over censorship prepared the ground for the expectation of impartial news reporting by the public broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Commission. It also demonstrates the advantage of considering diverse forms of media in tandem and sheds additional light on the role of the public in pursuit of the right of Australian citizens to hear opinion free from government interference and proprietorial diktat.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279–292
Number of pages14
JournalAustralian Journalism Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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