It is the type of threat to make a politician shiver, and certainly not with pleasure. The Australian sex industry yesterday warned MPs opposed to a relaxation in the classification of X-rated videos that it would make it a political issue in marginal constituencies.
The Eros Foundation, the industry's lobby group, said it was prepared to use its extensive mailing list in an aggressive campaign to target subscribers in marginal seats held by politicians from the right-wing, rural-based National Party.
The National Party, which governs Australia in coalition with the conservative Liberal Party of the Prime Minister John Howard, is resisting moves to change the X-rating of videos to "non-violent erotica". They want the word erotica replaced with the more loaded term, pornography.
Robbie Swan, a spokesman for Eros made plain yesterday that theirs was no idle threat. "I think there are a number of National Party MPs in marginal electorates, such as Larry Anthony, who wouldn't want this brought up as a political issue," he said. He said Mr Anthony's marginal seat in northern New South Wales contained 4,797 purchasers of sex products - 6.2 per cent of the electorate. "And when you think that most of those buyers are in a relationship with someone, that figure doubles," Mr Swan said, somewhat optimistically. In total, he said, there were 1.1 million Australians who could be targeted with political information by the industry within 48 hours.
Earlier this month a Senate committee recommended that the rating be changed. De-Anne Kelly, a North Queensland National MP who has led the campaign to persuade the Cabinet to adopt the word pornography, was unmoved yesterday. She said: "I and my colleagues who raised this matter initially aren't going to be put off."