The Australian public will soon be asked to voice its opinion on whether the country should have an R18+ classification for video games, with a meeting of the nation's Attorneys-General agreeing yesterday on the release of a discussion paper before the end of 2008.
At the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) meeting in Brisbane, Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls, whose department drafted the discussion paper, said that all in attendance agreed that the public will be consulted before the end of the year.
But the draft discussion paper presented to censorship ministers will undergo changes before it's made public, after South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson alleged that it was biased.
“I believe the draft discussion paper did not adequately represent both sides of the argument. I voiced my concerns to other Attorneys-General and we reached agreement that some minor changes will be made to the discussion paper,” Atkinson said.
“I am not opposed to a public debate on the merits of introducing a R18+ classification for electronic games--in fact, I welcome it. But it's unhelpful to commence that debate with what I believe is a biased discussion paper.
“There is little point in seeking public comment on an unfirm footing that neglects one side of the argument. I look forward to contributing to the development of a fairer discussion paper.”
In March this year, SCAG announced that it would be asking the public for its opinion on the R18+ classification for video games via a soon-to-be released discussion paper; the paper included an overview of the relevant research and literature and a proposal to amend the classification guidelines. GameSpot AU reported last week that the discussion paper would not go ahead after Atkinson withdrew his support of the draft without specifying why.
Now, work is again progressing, and once finalised, the discussion paper will be made available to the public via the Internet, and will ask opinions on a number of issues relating to the introduction of the R18+ classification for video games.