Australian gamers can expect to have an R18+ classification for games by January 1, 2013, according to the federal government.
Federal Minister for Home Affairs Jason Clare today introduced the R18+ bill in parliament and announced the federal government expects the R18+ for games legislation to officially come into effect next year.
Last month, Clare announced his intention to stick to former Federal Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor's previous plans in introducing the R18+ legislation in the February 2012 session of parliament.
Clare has stayed true to this plan, officially introducing the R18+ for games bill in parliament today.
"This will bring the classification categories for computer games into line with existing categories used to classify films and make the Australian classification regime more consistent with international standards," Clare told parliament.
"This reform has been a long time coming. Agreement to introduce an R18+ category has been reached after 10 years of negotiations with the states and territories. Over these 10 years, the Australian computer game industry has grown--along with the number of Australian computer gamers."
Clare told parliament that R18+ will first be introduced at a federal level, with states and territories following later with their own legislation for the adult classification.
"A lot of Australians are passionate about this reform. This bill will implement the Commonwealth's obligations as part of this agreement--and state and territory jurisdictions will follow with their own legislation later this year. It is anticipated that the Act provided for in this Bill will come into effect on the first of January next year."
Federal parliament officially resumed on February 7 this year. For the R18+ bill to be passed through the Lower House (House of Representatives), Clare's office says it requires the support of at least two crossbench MPs. The crossbench MPs are Rob Oakeshott, Tony Windsor, Andrew Wilkie, Bob Katter, and Greens MP Adam Bandt, who have remained silent on their stance over R18+ to date.
To pass through the Senate, the bill will require the support of either the coalition or the Greens, both of which are sympathetic to the R18+ issue; in November 2010, Federal Opposition Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis voiced his sympathy toward the R18+ cause, while the Greens have showed their support in the past.
UPDATE: GameSpot AU spoke to Clare's office to confirm why the R18+ bill's introduction date is a full eleven months away. According to Clare's office, Clare worked in consultation with Australian states and territories to come up with the January 1, 2013 introduction date for the R18+ classification.
Clare's office said there were two reasons for the January 1, 2013 introduction date: firstly, to allow for the time it will take for the R18+ bill to pass through both the House of Representatives and the Senate before becoming law; and secondly, to take into account the time it will take all states and territories to draft complementary legislation surrounding the introduction of R18+ for games.
GameSpot AU will continue to update this story.