Rabelais (student newspaper)

Date: 1995

Region: Australia

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Print Journalism

Artist: Editors: Elita Berndt, Michael Brown, Ben Ross and Valentina Srpcanska,

Confronting Bodies: Director of Public Prosecutions (akin to the US Federal Attorney General)

Dates of Action: 1995

Location: Melbourne, Australia Canberra, Australia

Description of Artwork: Student Newspaper. In particular a newspaper article describing The Art of Shoplifting. This was a political statement about the lack of opportunity and funding for the poor (and students especially).

The Incident: Following publication, there was a substantial level of media interest. Representatives of major retail chains and of the local police condemned the publication. On 8 August 1995, the then Federal Government Minister for Education, Simon Crean, was 'grilled' on a nationally syndicated radio program by John Laws (commonly known as "the king of talk back radio"). An undertaking was extracted from the Minister to pursue the student editors to determine if Federal Government funding to their paper could be cut, and to determine if the individuals could be prosecuted in the criminal courts. The exchange took place against a background of widespread speculation that an early federal election may have been imminent.

The Minister subsequently wrote to the Victorian Attorney-General, Jan Wade, urging her to prosecute the editors of both Catalyst and Rabelais for printing the article. (Sunday Age, 30 Aug 95). For further information about the involvement of politicians and public servants, see Interview with Marcus Clayton, Solicitor for the Rabelais Editors on The Law Report, ABC Radio National, 30 July 1996 (Note: The interview is in the last third of the file).

Results of Incident: Case dropped by DPP but could theoretically be resumed any time until the statue of limitations applies.

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