If early results from the federal government's public consultation into the introduction of an R18+ rating for games in Australia are anything to go by, then the public is overwhelmingly behind an adult classification for games. But with less than a week to go before the end of the consultation, the people whose opinion matters the most--the various state and territory Attorneys-General that ultimately get to decide whether an R18+ is introduced--are remaining tight-lipped about their views.
A recent survey of all state and territory Attorneys-General by GameSpot AU has found that only the Australian Capital Territory's AG was willing to admit public support for R18+. The rest of the ministers stated no position or declined to comment. When GameSpot AU last interviewed the Censorship Ministers over a year ago, Victorian AG Rob Hulls and the ACT AG Simon Corbell said they supported the introduction of an R18+ classification. Hulls has since withdrawn his public support, saying that he does not wish to "preempt" the results of the public consultation. Other ministers admitted no position with the exception of South Australian AG Michael Atkinson, whose stance on the issue is well known.
While the outcome of the R18+ discussion paper is looking to be largely in support of R18+, little is known about how influential the results of the paper will be toward bringing about an adult classification for video games in Australia. To date, the federal government has only stated that the results will merely “inform” any future decisions made about the R18+ classification.
What is known is that at some point, state and territory Attorneys-General will once again be asked to vote on whether or not they support the introduction of an R18+ classification for video games in Australia. For an R18+ rating for games to be introduced in Australia, all Attorneys-General must agree on its implementation.
Below are the responses from the Attorneys-General on whether or not they support an R18+ rating for games in Australia.
Attorney-General Rob Hulls
"The government supports the release of a public discussion paper on an R18+ classification of video games. I will not be preempting this consultation by announcing a position on this issue," the minister said.
Attorney-General Simon Corbell
“The ACT Government supports the introduction of an R18+ classification for video games, similar to that of films and television. This position has been conveyed at meetings of commonwealth, state, and territory ministers on a number of occasions. There is general support in Australia for an R18+ classification, and the ACT would encourage anyone with an interest in this issue to have their say by making a submission to the discussion paper. I expect that the support that exists for film and television classifications translates into [support for] classifications for computer and video games. The ACT Government is supportive of introducing an R18+ rating for video and computer games and will take into account the views of consumers through the consultation process," the minister said.
Attorney-General John Hatzistergos
"The NSW Government supports a national approach to classification based on public consultation. The National Classification Scheme is based on the premise that classification decisions should represent the standards of morality, decency, and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults. The position of Censorship Ministers on this issue should therefore be informed by views of the broader community. The consultation process now under way is an important step in achieving this," a spokesman for the minister said.
Attorney-General Lara Giddings
"We are currently working through the discussion paper, weighing up the arguments for and against the classification, and intend to lodge a submission before the closing date of 28 February 2010," a spokesman for the minister said.
Attorney-General Cameron Dick
"The Queensland government believes this issue should be resolved to give certainty to the industry. We are currently finalising our position in relation to the issues raised in the discussion paper," the minister said.
Attorney-General Christian Porter
"The Commonwealth Government released the discussion paper on 14 December 2009. Submissions to that paper will be received until 28 February 2010. Ministers will make a decision on this matter after they have had time to consider the discussion paper and any submissions," the minister said.
Attorney General Delia Lawrie
A spokesperson for the Northern Territory government declined to comment on the issue.
For more on classification, check out GameSpot AU's Aussie Games Classification FAQ feature.