Opposition backs age verification for pornography

Duncan Murray |

The opposition has backed a trial of age verification for accessing pornography online.
The opposition has backed a trial of age verification for accessing pornography online.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton says graphic pornographic videos are playing into the minds of young Australians and is backing a pathway to age verification for some online content.

The opposition announced this week that if elected they will provide $6.7 million over two years to the eSafety Commission to conduct a trial of age verification technology for online pornography, and other harmful content.

Speaking to the Liberal Party NSW state convention in Sydney on Saturday, Mr Dutton accused Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of siding with the pornography industry over Australian kids and families.

“I have not seen something as negligent as this in a long time,” he said.

“We know that the content that these kids are seeing online is graphic.

“These are graphic videos and they are playing into the young minds, particularly of young boys.”

In March 2023, the eSafety Commission released a roadmap for implementing age verification, created at the behest of the former government.

A response by the current government acknowledged concerning evidence about children’s widespread access to online pornography, but said current technologies were not ready to support age assurance mechanisms.

“Each type of age verification or age assurance technology comes with its own privacy, security, effectiveness and implementation issues,” the government said.

Peter Dutton
Peter Dutton says online pornography is playing into the minds of young Australians. (Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS)

One of the findings of the roadmap was an association between mainstream pornography and attitudes that contribute to gender-based violence.

Mr Dutton said many of the groups calling for better regulated access to pornography were the same groups combating domestic violence.

Opposition communications spokesperson, David Coleman will introduce a private member’s bill into parliament on Monday seeking to amend the Online Safety Act to legislate for an age verification trial.

Liberal MP, Andrew Wallace chaired the Social Policy and Legal Affairs Committee which in 2020 recommended mandatory age verification for online pornography and wagering.

“For some entirely inexplicable reason, the Albanese government believes that the big porn producers should be able to self-regulate,” he said on Saturday.

“I reject that view entirely. Big porn does not care about the welfare of young Australians or the psychological and physical harm their product causes.”

Mr Dutton said the fundamental approach of the opposition was to have the same laws that apply in the real world, apply online.