Aussie R18+ decision impossible in March

NSW attorney general confirms nonattendance at March SCAG meeting due to upcoming state elections; any decision on R18+ requires the unanimous agreement of all state and territory attorneys general.

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Last December, state, territory, and federal attorneys general unanimously agreed to draft a set of preliminary guidelines for the introduction of an R18+ classification for video games in Australia.

After hours of deliberation at the Standing Committee of Attorneys General (SCAG) meeting in Canberra, Federal Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor told media that attending attorneys general had agreed to spend the next three months drafting the legal parameters which will be used by the Australian Classification Board to classify R18+ games if or when the rating is officially voted on and introduced. The deadline for the proposed R18+ for games guidelines is March 4, 2011--the date of the next SCAG meeting, which will be held in Wellington, New Zealand.

Now, it appears the decision to introduce R18+ for games once and for all will once again be delayed. This time, the culprit is the upcoming New South Wales state elections, which will be held on Saturday, March 26. The NSW attorney general's department has confirmed to GameSpot AU that NSW Attorney General John Hatzistergos will not be attending the next SCAG meeting on March 4 because of the proximity of the election and will therefore be unable to partake in any voting process. Because any decision regarding R18+ requires all state, territory, and federal attorneys general to vote and reach a unanimous decision, it will be impossible for any voting to take place.

The NSW attorney general, John Hatzistergos.

Even if Hatzistergos were to attend SCAG on March 4, the NSW government will be in the midst of a "caretaker" period (which begins on March 4). These conventions cover the period immediately leading up to a general election and continue until either the government is returned or a new government is commissioned. According to the NSW premier's department, "no significant new decisions or initiatives, appointments, or contractual undertakings should be made during the caretaker period."

"Our caretaker period begins on March 4, which is also the first day of the SCAG meeting," Hatzistergos' spokesperson told GameSpot AU. "However, the NSW attorney general will not be attending the SCAG meeting. So he will not be able to participate in any voting that takes place on any of the issues discussed."

In December, Federal Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor told media there was general consensus from all attorneys general that Australia's classification system is in need of an overhaul, a decision that was reached following presentation of pro-R18+ evidence, including the final results of the federal government's public consultation, which showed 98.4 percent of respondents supported the introduction of the adult classification for games. The attorneys general were also presented with the federal government's R18+ classification review, which showed no conclusive link between violent games and aggressive behaviour, as well as the results of a nationwide Galaxy survey, which showed 80 percent of the 2,226 people contacted supported the introduction of R18+ for games.

GameSpot AU raised the possibility of NSW's incapacitation at the March 2011 SCAG meeting with O'Connor in December last year. "Assuming that the Opposition wins in NSW, it will obviously depend on what policy they are going to take towards the [R18+ for games] issue going into the election. I cannot determine what will happen. But, I can say that there is a commitment by all nine governments to move forward with this, and I believe that if we build a consensus around the proposed guidelines, it will make it more likely for change to occur. We have to keep in mind that this is not a left or right argument--this is a common-sense approach to adult-only entertainment. This approach will be the most useful in bringing about change."

Stay tuned to GameSpot AU as we bring you more news closer to the March 4 SCAG meeting. For more on the issue, visit GameSpot AU's previous coverage.

Discussion

49 comments
flammable_zeus
flammable_zeus

Shouldn't NSW not have an AG if they make up all these loopholes to not have to make important decisions? If you don't want to make decisions, you're in the wrong line of work.

badiie05
badiie05

..*sigh* nothing new, same old politics..they totally planned his absence..

roddy72
roddy72

Politicians...can you ever rely on them on anything?

Roo6339
Roo6339

This is fine with me. I'll just continue to import. Until the government gets their act together my money will go elsewhere.

protaganist20
protaganist20

There's just nothing else to say on this matter that hasn't already been said a thousand times other than groan.

AceBalls
AceBalls

To this day, I still say to myself after leaving the toilet - "Ahhhh. I just dropped an excellent Michael Atkinson".

lancebalog
lancebalog

just the idea that a video game rating system has to be approved by people who dont play vidya is silly in its own right. How is a politician qualified to make judgments on a subject they have no clue about? put some1 in the industry whos qualified and experienced and dont waste 2 years worth of resources because you have no clue having to resort to the only knowledge u can bring to the table, which are morals that date back to 1952 with 0 relavance.

cooljosh3k
cooljosh3k

"Gee, I know guys; let's make the meeting that needs everybody, the same time that our other meeting needs everbody!" Had the AGs and Goverment pulled thier fingers out of thier butts and properly dealt with this issue, games like DukeNukem (which contains unristricted nudity amoung other things) would not be in the hands of 13 year old gamers who are visiting thier local EBGames with thier Birthday money. The Goverment said themselves that games would have a higher rating then a movie with the same content, so why does DukeNukem and others get an MA15? I am all for having games like DukeNukem and L4D in Australia, but it needs to be properbly rated.

TurambarGS
TurambarGS

Disappointing but not surprising. Political processes are always such long and frustratingly long ones (unless they're reacting to something topical in a knee jerk way and the public is demanding action). We'll get there eventually...

bs1m
bs1m

It's simple people. Next election -state or federal- vote for the only political party out of the top three that will stand up for our rights. The Greens are ready to introduce a bill of rights that will protect us from right wing religious control freaks like Abbott and Conroy.

brok
brok

In other news, the grass is fully grown, and the paint is by now completely dry.

Vaultboy-101
Vaultboy-101

What do they even do at these meetings? Have a tea part or something? Cos obviously they are not discussing R18 very well.

PCJ_Oz
PCJ_Oz

Wait why is the meeting taking place in New Zealand?

arogo
arogo

Sigh, it's tough being ahead of the curve

pengo93
pengo93

*Explodes with fury*

unseen_hero
unseen_hero

Has anyone stopped to think about the games that have made it through unscathed? Gears of War, God of War, Resident Evil, Dead Space, etc. These (apart from RE) were games that were going to SELL HEAPS of units in Australia and none of them got banned or even censored. Games like Left 4 Dead 2 and Aliens Vs Predator which had a huge uproar about but still didn't sell that great. Anyone seeing a pattern here? It looks to me as though the games that will sell boat loads don't get touched, so why is everyone so upset?! Apart from GTA4, which I don't believe not having prostitutes made it any less of a game. I just don't see that R18 is such a big issue.

SuprSaiyanRockr
SuprSaiyanRockr

It would really suck if they actually got to the decision making stage and changed nothing.

Sinister1811
Sinister1811

More delays on the decision. Why am I not surprised?

Payback7
Payback7

sigh. At least the Aussie dollar is really good - importing it is then!! :)

TheCyborgNinja
TheCyborgNinja

This is why democratic governments are stupid. They can't get anything done, and they never do what anyone wants them to. In the olden days, the monarch (or whomever) would make bold decisions, but if they were really bad you could raise a mob and kill him/her. The replacement would realize the same fate was possible, and correct things appropriately. I hate democracy. It just makes rich people happy, and idiots feel safe.

bumblebeerocks1
bumblebeerocks1

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

johnnyauau
johnnyauau

Honestly, we need a majority, not a unanimous vote that's so overused by attorney generals. There's so infested in politics that common sense might be constantly pushed aside. Also the ridiculous delays is and especially former Michael Atkinsons and many other anti R18+ gamers is what contributing using MA15+ for so long. If I were them, we need a better political system.

mouthofplague
mouthofplague

im so over all of this. im going to start importing games if they get banned/dumbed down.

ColdGen
ColdGen

Well NSW Labour will be out on there arse R18+ or not!

ferretshob
ferretshob

Enough is enough. Pull your heads in AG's. How hard can it be for you to say "hey, it is about time we caught up to the rest of the world, introduction of the R18+ classification approved". Is it that hard to pull your thumbs out of your mouths and say it? And how convenient is it that the "Caretaker" period begins the same day of the SCAG meetings. Stop making so many excuses and do what you have all be voted into do, and that is to listen to the public. That is what you get paid to do, so just bloody do it all ready. If Duke Nukem Forever and Gears of War 3 are going to be banned or dumbed down in anyway under the current classification system I will be importing every game that comes out from then on.

StellaLunaris
StellaLunaris

*Takes another shot* H-how many have I d-downed so f-far...? *WHUMP!*

WickedWeavile
WickedWeavile

I've stopped investing my emotion and time into this 'issue' because it's clear once again that it's going to be stalled into oblivion and all this campaigning and all those petitions would have been for naught. I'll just stick to importing any censored games until Australia decides to wise up. Won't hold my breath or anything though.

bahamut_au
bahamut_au

They are compounding the issue by considering reforms of the entire classification system for everything...making a mountain out of a molehill. Plenty of responsible and intelligent gamers could have sorted this years ago - bring in the R18+, keep games banned that are ridiculously over-the-top, uncensor games that couldn't meet the MA15+ rating and brand them R18+, maybe move games like Duke Nukem Forever and AVP to the R18+...all these things could have been achieved or at least proposed by a committee. Instead the AsG are getting their info and pressure from interest groups who cling on to antiquated stereotypes about games being for children only.

Aletunda
Aletunda

this could be a ploy to stretch the issue out so people forget, and already on this post many people are falling into that trap, STAND TALL AND STRONG PEOPLE WE CAN MAKE THIS WORK!! DONT LOSE FAITH!

ScrawlKnight
ScrawlKnight

Yeah it sucks, but there's nothing to be done in this case. With elections coming up you kind of understand his position.

damaster101
damaster101

I think there plan is to keep delaying it so everyone gets sick of waiting and then they will silently drop it.Yeah i'm over it, as long as Gears of War 3 isn't censored i will be a happy man. These politicians make the biggest deals out of the smallest things.They need to learn to chill out.

criegz
criegz

@CamoBullo: Madness? This - ahh, you know the rest :P

criegz
criegz

Hopefully this isn't a tactic to stretch it out and hopefully everyone forgets... Is it really that hard to grant a rating so simple? Sheesh, get it together!

CamoBullo
CamoBullo

No, that's it. I no longer care about this. Duke Nukem Forever is going to be uncensored here, and that's all I want to know. But, while this happened, Left 4 Dead 2 still remains censored. This is madness.

raptor1906
raptor1906

Oh for F sakes, Does this issue really have to take this long to decide? Pathetic.....

smooth40
smooth40

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

bahamut_au
bahamut_au

So allergic to making a decision on this matter.

Private_Pow
Private_Pow

Jeez I think I've stopped caring about this. Don't have time for many video games anymore. @E-i-N-e Obviously you are frustrated but shooting them isn't going to solve the problem. Maybe you should talk to a councilor.

benboz
benboz

The NSW election isn't until the 26th March. Like c'mon you can still have a meeting. This is so stupid.

Ragnarok-64
Ragnarok-64

You can't be serious?! This is just getting really stupid/pathetic, "oh guys just wait a bit longer...." "sorry guys not now" ---- And you wonder why sales in the game industry has gone down quite abit.

E-i-N-e
E-i-N-e

The Australian Government is really pathetic. Honestly if you can't make a decision on one subject then you should be shot.

AceBalls
AceBalls

Don't worry guys. Just keep importing. It's not worth buying games from Australia anyway. Too expensive, too restricted and the government simply does not give a rats ass.

sooty1987
sooty1987

probably won't get a R18+ rating till year 2050

S2333
S2333

Idea: Us as a gaming community come up with a draft set of guidelines that satisfy the requirements and us as a community. Lets just do it ourselves and stop waiting for bureaucracy to sort it out.