The Censorship Office
Report by Lyle Turnbull, 'TASTERS IN CHIEF - THE CUSTOMS STORY'
'Mr Ivo Hammett, Melbourne's literary examining officer, had his table piled high with the day's intake - dozens of crime and sex magazines, German sunbathers, English horror stories, Forever Amber in German, Love Me Sailor in French.
In the past three years there has been a tremendous increase in the flow of objectionable literature. Recent prosecutions in Britain have underlined the scope of the trade in crime, sex and brutality.
It is so big that here they are banning a dozen books each day.
In each State they come to the local man who looks them over. If he thinks there is a case against them, their offences are noted and they're sent to Canberra. There the Literature Censorship Board, headed by Dr L.H. Allen, M.A., Ph.D., pass judgment. Even then, if the importers want to appeal, they can take their case to the Appeal Censor, Sir Robert Garran, who is a G.C.M.G, a Q.C., an M.A., and an LLD.
Many do get through - in first-class mail, which is impossible to police. Once the original has been copied and republished here, the Commonwealth is powerless to act.
The detective magazines coming in are mostly American and deal in great detail with crimes of sexual depravity, brutality and passion. All are banned here, but some still get through the screen.
Several recent Australian crimes, says Mr Hammett, are models of cases described in these magazines - he is positive some of our local misfits have got their ideas from the American masters.
Every book is not read right through - that would be physically impossible.
"We work it this way", said Mr Hammett picking up a magazine from his desk. It was a private eye story, full of boots in the face, bullets in the belly, and girls on the couch.
"I flip through it first, just like this. I see the publishers name - well known for this type of book - see a few objectionable paragraphs and decide if it's suspect."
"Then I go through it more thoroughly, noting the pages giving the greatest offence."
Watching the flood of material hasn't completely dulled Mr Hammett's love of books. But it has taken the edge off it.
He still reads a great deal, but he can't stand fiction. The private eyes have done that to him.
Sun Week-End Magazine, 20 March 1954