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Photo: Supplied

Photo: Supplied

Journalist T-Shirt With Famous Headline Deemed ‘Offensive’ by Parliament Security

What began as a lazy jog around Parliament House has ended in a stoush over the right to offend in the halls of Australia’s home of democracy.

Earlier today two press gallery journalists from The West Australian newspaper pulled on their daggy running gear and set out on their semi-regular lap of Capital Hill.

Either Nick Butterly or Andrew Tillett is likely to win awards for their physical prowess or their sense of style.

Butterly wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the most famous headline ever penned by US tabloid the New York Post, “Headless body in topless bar”.

At the end of their run the two Parliament House pass holders staggered in the main public entrance and passed through the metal detectors.

Butterly tells the story:

A female guard stopped me and asked if she could see my T-shirt.

She said: “I’m sorry sir you will have to take that off. It’s offensive.”

I laughed thinking she was joking and moved to leave. She became quite serious and said I would have to stand in the corner and suggested I might not be able to enter the building.

I explained to her this was a famous tabloid headline and we were newspaper reporters in the gallery.

She said that did not matter and some people might find the shirt offensive. She suggested I would have to turn the shirt inside out and go and change.

Another security guard told her we were pass holders and suggested we be allowed to go inside and change.

She seemed unsure and hesitated for a moment and we walked off.

The ABC asked the Department of Parliamentary Services to clarify what the rules are on T-shirt slogans and who gets to determine what is, or is not, offensive.

The official response said Parliament has a longstanding policy to not allow offensive messages on garments within the House.

“Offensive messages may relate to a number of issues, including protest slogans, comments on murder or terrorism and those deemed to be not fitting of the decorum of the House,” a statement read.

“Given the current climate, it was considered that the message on the T-shirt could be offensive to a number of staff and visitors, which is why the individual was requested to remove the T-shirt.”

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