http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/game ... 1hs4b.html
'Historic agreement' to introduce R18+ games July 22, 2011
Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor is confident Australia will soon introduce an R18+ classification for video games after an “historic agreement” today.
Eight out of nine classification ministers made an “in principle agreement” today at the Standing Committee of Attorneys General meeting in Adelaide to introduce an R18+ rating.
However, the Federal Government did not get the unanimous support from all states and territories today that it needs to change the classification system.
Advertisement: Story continues below The New South Wales Attorney-General Greg Smith abstained from the vote and is going to consider it out of session.
Mr O'Connor says an R18+ classification for games had been on the agenda for more than a decade and was a “very important reform” and “an important step forward for our classification scheme”.
He says the Federal Government want sufficient protection in place to protect children and allow for adult themed games to be suitable classified.
“We have today struck a historic agreement,” Mr O’Connor says. “I am confident that with the in principle agreement we will be able to move forward and implement a R18+ rating in Australia.
“I don’t want this matter returning to another Attorney-General forum. I believe it’s a matter of months before we have the capacity to introduce this classification.”
Mr O’Connor indicated some games might be re-classified into a higher rating after R18+ is introduced.
Guidelines for a revised games classification system in Australia were drafted following the Standing Committee of Attorneys General meeting in December last year.
Some amendments to the draft guidelines were discussed by classification ministers today prior to the in-principle agreement.
In a media statement, NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith welcomed amendments to the draft guidelines but said he wished to consult with community groups prior to seeking cabinet approval.
Brendan O'Connor says the Federal Government would over-ride NSW and implement the R18+ rating regardless of its decision. However, O'Connor was confident that NSW would get over the line.
The video games industry has welcomed today’s announcement.
Ron Curry, CEO of the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (iGEA), says today’s outcome is a positive step for the video games industry which has been awaiting an R18+ classification for almost a decade.
“An in-principle agreement for an R18+ classification is a big step towards a robust ratings system that best equips parents to manage their children’s access to appropriate content, as well as enables adults the ability to play games of their choice within the confines of the law,” says Mr Curry.
“This is the first step in the legislative process and until we can review the final guidelines, we can’t fully assess the impact of an adult rating for games in Australia. We can be confident however that all content will be subjected to stringent classification guidelines and games which exceed an R18+ classification rating will still be refused classification and banned in Australia
“With an adult rating finally on the horizon, we can now better focus our energy on more relevant discussions around content classification as entertainment formats and content continue to blur.”
Frankly, I'm still a little confused about what's going on, and it seems to me as though some of the major players are, too. But it looks like a generally positive move.
It looks like the state of play is that the AGs agree enough that legislation can start moving to change things even though they haven't officially voted unanimously in favour. I think that this means the federal guidelines can be put in place that then let the states choose what the details of the ratings are, which seems odd and more than a little open to manipulation. It also seems that South Australia plans to just shift its MA15+ category up to R18+, thus defeating the purpose of having the new rating in the first place; the Australian Christian Lobby's statement on the matter makes me think they believe this is what's going to happen across the board which is just wrong. And while the ACL wanted to wait for a review of all classifications, it makes sense to me that the in-principle stuff can be in place now and the states can use the review to make a more informed decision about the details.