Australian Censorship Ministers speak out on R18+

Victorian and ACT attorneys general say they support R18+; others admit no position.

It seems that South Australian attorney general Michael Atkinson remains the lone public voice opposing the introduction of an R18+ classification for games in Australia--at least for now. Last week, GameSpot AU brought you an exclusive article with Atkinson, who defended his views on opposing the introduction of the R18+ classification for video games in Australia. Atkinson said that he wasn't the only censorship minister to oppose the introduction of the R18+ classification, adding that he had been asked by other ministers to be the spokesperson on the matter.

But a survey of Australian federal, state, and territory attorneys general conducted by GameSpot AU has found no public support for the South Australian minister's position. Victoria and the ACT both say they support an R18+ classification, whereas NSW, Queensland, the Northern Territory, Tasmania, Western Australia, and the federal government all declined to state where they stand on the matter. 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:

VICTORIA
Attorney General Rob Hulls

Hulls, a long-standing and outspoken supporter of the introduction of the R18+ classification for video games, had this to say: "I fully support there being consultation on this issue, but ultimately the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) is waiting for the South Australian Attorney to agree to consult on the matter."

ACT
Attorney General Simon Corbell

A spokesperson for Corbell said: "The ACT supports in principle the introduction of an R18+ classification for computer games. The Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) has decided to release a discussion paper on the issue and will be reviewing the public feedback once that paper is released."

NSW
Attorney General John Hatzistergos

A spokesperson for Hatzistergos said: "The NSW Attorney General has not indicated a position on the introduction of an R18+ classification for video games. However, he has indicated that he would support a public consultation process with regard to the issue."

TASMANIA
Attorney General Lara Giddings

A spokesperson from the Tasmanian government said: "The Tasmanian Government has not yet adopted a final position on the introduction of an R18+ classification for video games in Australia. A discussion paper is being finalised for the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) to inform community consultation. A decision on the preferred national approach will be made following this consultation. Tasmania has agreed to this approach."

QUEENSLAND
Attorney General Kerry Shine

Shine made this statement, indicating no position on the matter: "There are strong arguments for and against the introduction of an R18+ classification for computer games, with recent research into the impact of violence in video games divided. Establishing an R18+ classification for computer games was discussed by Censorship Ministers at the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General meeting (SCAG) on 6 November 2008. These discussions will continue and it is expected that a discussion paper will be finalised with a view to Australia-wide community consultation later this year. Censorship Ministers will again consider R18+ classification for computer games once community consultation is completed."

WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Attorney General Christian Porter

Porter made the following, somewhat unclear, statement: "As you would be aware, all States and Territories would have to agree to allow the introduction of R18+ games into the country. South Australia has quite vocally opposed the introduction of these games. Therefore any further comment would be hypothetical."

NORTHERN TERRITORY
Attorney General Marion Rose Scrymgour

A spokesperson for the Northern Territory government said the following, indicating no position: "A discussion paper is currently being circulated. For the NT, the issue is complicated by the changes made to the regulation of pornography in Indigenous communities as a result of the Intervention. Consultation is required in communities and with peak bodies representing Aboriginal interests. The Northern Territory Government will wait for the outcome of the consultation and discussion paper before formulating a position."

FEDERAL
Attorney General Robert McClelland

A spokesperson for McClelland said: "The Government is aware of the wide range of views in the community on the introduction of an R18+ classification for computer games. At this stage, Censorship Ministers are considering the content of a draft discussion paper and awaiting comments on the draft from South Australia. Any changes to classification categories, including introducing an R18+ classification for computer games, require unanimous support of the Commonwealth and all State and Territories."

Written By

Discussion

51 comments
ajacolorado
ajacolorado

I agree with the R18+ Mainly due to the fact that some games are getting unfairly banned and that we need to grow up and stop trying to overprotect people. Can't we make our own decisions or do we need an overprotective Government to tell us what we can play.That being said I think we also need to make sure Children can't have easy access to some of that content. e.g Manhunt I dont think I would want a 10yr old playing that

cru3
cru3

You've got to love political talk. They're the only profession of people I know who can say absolutely nothing in 4-5 full sentences.

darthturkey
darthturkey

There are 8 Attorney Generas that say yes to the R rating for games and one who says no, Hey mr Atkinson people are going to download from torrents or import them, you not stoping kids play these games, i know someone who get these banned games from a friend, he is only 13, yes a 13 playing banned games, so get with the system and say yes, kids will get one way or another.

gameking5000
gameking5000

Mr.Atkinson represents his people well. He stands by his reason. Saying that he he is stubborn, selfish and all the other ridicolous adjectives is wrong. He has an opinion and we MUST respect that. @crackpack What sort of teacher knows about this website and plays games. Aren't they busy? Remember to all who oopose the system, 18+ rating may restrict people under 18 but it does not ban them. Some parents or relatives may let an under 18 person play.

crackpack
crackpack

One of the major problems with the censorship laws, and the way they are therefore run, is the constant movement and 'openness' of society. Some movies/games/ books and so on that were rated R18+ ten years ago would not be worth the same rating today. The rating system needs to change and adapt to what is being produced today and rate accordingly. THAT being said, it is certainly not going to stop people who are under the rating's age restrictions from viewing or playing the content. There is always someone who buys it or gives it to little brothers and sisters. As a teacher, I'm sick of seeing or hearing young children complain about bad dreams or talk about killing people because they, not big brother or sister, they have been playing games like Resident Evil or BioShock or some other game of that ilk. Perhaps laws should be brought in for parents or people who supply young children with these games. but that's a different debate... :)

Merlin53
Merlin53

@ imprezawrx500 110% agree mate. He's blind to the fact that the current system fails anyway, and wants THAT to remain, and yet denies the use of a system that could stop many incorrectly rated games (and movies for that matter) getting into the hands of minors - no disrespect for those under 18 - okay . . I prefer the NZ approach myself, and it would not be very hard to simply allow the same approach here. Plus the system doesn't need change, as we already have the ratings there. Plus for those who do not know, we DO have a rating for Adult Content here . . it is X18+ and is only affixed to content that is Adult R rated meaning porn or explicit content. I know I can go to any video store right now, grab a MA15+ movie and see full on sex acts, and even see female to female and male to male sex acts . . do you want your kids to see that. There's nothing wrong with it, so long as it is for adults .. . but your 15yr old . . and many 13-15yr old who buy and rent the stuff without a bat of an eyelid from store staff. If the games and movies had a clear R18+ rating on them, both adults, staff and the community would see that the content was NOT appropriate for those under 18 yrs. period.

imprezawrx500
imprezawrx500

It's very interesting watching this r18 debate from nz. pretty much every game in nz has a aus ratting printed on the box but if its ma15+ there is always a r16/r18 slapped over the top, so what Atkinson is saying it it's perfectly fine for 95% of game that are r18 in nz to be sold to 15 year olds in Australia, so much for protecting children, more like making it really easy for them to get gta4 etc.

Merlin53
Merlin53

@ 008Zulu As gammerKing pointed out, we need to respect his opinion, yet he doesn't even want to consider respecting ours. So it's a two way street really. He asks us to respect his opinions, and he has a right to think the way he does, but he has an OBLIGATION as an elected official to 'represent the people" . . Not himself. To that end, if the majority of ppl would like a public discussion on the matter, irrespective of HIS personal OPINION, or mine, or yours etc, then as an elected official, he has the responsibility to do so, and allow the law and the public to vote on it and the majority rule. Which every other state official is really saying in the end. But he has the ability to over rule every other state by being the one and only stat attorney general to not support ANY change. He also has his veto vote which can stop any attempt to have it discussed, which he has a;ready done once, and will no doubt do it again. SO yes, he does have to respect our opinions, and we have to his, neither of which is right or wrong, but it is supposed to be a democracy and he is supposed to be an elected official representing those ppl that actually voted him in, which he is clearly NOT doing. Even those in his state have said they want a discussion on the matter (91% if I remember correctly) yet he blankly refuses to consider it. Now would you say tha tis respecting the rights of others as an elected official. If it was in the US, he'd be outed as quick as looking at him. here's an interesting item for you to consider: http://www.abc.net.au/stateline/sa/content/2006/s2415032.htm Then he withdraws his support of the discussion http://blogs.theage.com.au/screenplay/archives//010915.html

dr_satan666
dr_satan666

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

kruesader
kruesader

It's ridiculous that he is afraid to discuss his "valid" opinion, he just knows it will lose so he is being stubborn and stopping discussion of the issue.

gameking5000
gameking5000

Mr.Atkinson says that if we retain our current Classification system means that it's either completely banned or 15+. I don't prefer both of those systems. The Queensland Attorney Generald did say that there are strong arguements on both sides and you have to consider the other arguement.

huntercal
huntercal

Look if this guy doesn't want R18+ in videogames then fine that's his call, but to say he is voicing the concerns of others is just a plain face lie. This should be at the very least discussed and the view of the public should be ade mention of, afterall these people were put in their positions to represent us.

BenMan40
BenMan40

Being 16 and only a somewhat casual gamer, i am neither for nor against brining in the rating. and as for merlins rant about it affecting kids who are 15+ there aint much difference between 15/16 and 18 and then comparing to other countries such as in europe. in most countries in europe the legal drinking age is 16 but you dont see everyone saying how crap it is that we cant drink till we are 18 unlike all these other countries

maxgil2
maxgil2

So he's found to be liar was well, go figure..he failed as a parent & now fail as an AG.

polodoro
polodoro

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

008Zulu
008Zulu

From Merlin53: If that was the case, then Mr Atkinson should also respect the thoughts of those who voted him in to power. He should also respect the general belief that 'something' needs to be done, and he should also respect the need to 'discuss' the situation. Why should he respect the views of those who don't have the exact same views as him?

Merlin53
Merlin53

@ gameking5000 If that was the case, then Mr Atkinson should also respect the thoughts of those who voted him in to power. He should also respect the general belief that 'something' needs to be done, and he should also respect the need to 'discuss' the situation. What he does do is - NOT respect any individuals right to even discuss it, hence his desire NOT to allow public debate on the subject. He doesn't even respect the rights and thoughts of his fellow polies who would like it discussed publicily. If anyone should respect the right and thoughts of others, it is elected officials who ideally represent the desires and wishes of those who elected them in . . . wouldn't you agree . . ? Because he certainly isn't, nor is he about to. As far as he is concerned, it's a no-go issue, and that is that. Even if his other members of the censorship board desire the right to discuss it, he refuses to. Now I ask you, is that in YOUR best interest, or simply his own interests . . .

camian69
camian69

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Merlin53
Merlin53

One of the big problems we have is the actual law its self. Atkinson was able to use his veto vote last year in late Oct to STOP public discussion in its tracks. The public paper that the other staes all 'agreed' to in principle was to be sent out or should I say, approved for circulation etc, but usinghis veto he stopped it and basically said, not while I'm in the office we will NOT discuss this publically or ferally. His vetop was then overturned several weeks later, but the damage had been done, the meeting that had been set down had passed, and of course will have to wait until another appropriate time. When again he will use his veto powers to again stop the discussion publicily. Just do a google for atkinson stops discussion or atkins use veto vote etc, you should find info on it in oct/nov 2008. So basically, while he is in office, which will be SOME time, we have no chance of having it changed. And please, let's not go into, "will someone please shoot/blow him up" etc. That's the perfect stuff his little office gremlins would love to grab and show the board when and if it is discussed to prove the infintile minds of gamers etc. WHile they claim by allowing the R18+ to be used willflood the Australian shores with filth and depravity and violence. they seem to forget that is happening right NOW, and it is done will complete federal laws and approval of the government by the use of our weak and stupid MA15+ rating. Only a few games that may normally go under the radar due to content, currently fall foul of the OLFC. Even FEAR 2 has now been approved, but slip over to aUSTRALIAN Xbox.com.au, download the demo, and there, right infront of the screen is the M17+ ratings from the US and it has a solid 18+ PEGI rating in europe and the British censorship board has a 18+ rating on it as well . . Guess what, it gets a MA15+ here, so young jonny and marry can walk up to the EB/GAME store and plonk down their money and grab a copy and walk out without even being questioned about it if they look older than 15. Which you have to admit, applies to a great number of teens these days. Our current system isthe thing that does not work, and AGE appropriate levels should be employed on all games and movies such as those used in most major countries and regions throughout the rest of the world. We are the only "civilized" country that says it's 15 yr olds are old enough to watch. play and interact with what is normally only available for 18+ yr old, ie adults. But then we have another problem, one that many seem to forget. WHile publishers would love their games to be correctly labeled, they also cringe locally at what would happen if it was introduced, and if the games normally affixed with 17-18 etc overseas, had a R18+ here, SALES of games would drop significantly. Due to the fact that a larger % of games are bought by mums (highest purchaser of games in Australia btw) for their kids. Thinking that a MA15+ game "can't be all that bad, after all, it's only 15+" etc. SO the sales, even if affected by as little as say 5% or even 10% would wound the economics of the industry here. SHops would haveto change how they display games of that type. Some therefore would not carry them, an dthus the Publisher or moreto the point, distributor would not get games into stores and sale (meaning $$ returns) would drop. And that is something we do not want to happen now, especially here in Australia. We are about to lose yet another MAJOR producer of AV electronic inclu TVs etc . .Panasonic have just sacked several thousand employees and will be closing its factories producing plasma TV's and It will join the other companies leaving Australia for greener pastures due to our harsh price wars here. We've seen several car manafactures leave, and we've seen other AV specialists leave, and even HO is now considering moving its local businesses offshore away from Australia, as it's returns no longer make local offices viable. So do you see a government approving something that could well cut local spending . .? I don't think so. I firmly believe we need the R18+ here, and we need the current rating looked at even if it was to properly enforce correct age appropriate listings of films and games, but I seriously doubt that will happen, any time soon.

maliGGs
maliGGs

Can't wait till he retires... or dies. Either way our government still fails.

gameking5000
gameking5000

M.Atkinson gives a good detailed explanation why he's against the rating-18+. We need to respect his explanation.

beardrewz
beardrewz

lol yes in the act we have it all! cant get any worse!

tawagivercetti
tawagivercetti

In ACT we have porn, fireworks bring on R+18 games already. If South Australia can't get in line then why not let R+18 games be for the states/territories that Ministers agree to it. Then the others can follow if they want. A unnanimous vote underminds state governments right to have their own laws.

superchink
superchink

Shouldn't Atkinson be conducting consultations and discussions with SA citizens? It looks like he couldn't care less what his people wants.... instead this Narcissistic man only care about what he thinks, and seek to create Australia in his own image. That alone makes him a bad choice for a state's leader.

rockatanski
rockatanski

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shani_boy101
shani_boy101

Atkinson needs to go. now. his arguments are complete bull, like when he says he lost his kids to computer games, well thats your fault isn't it?? also he thinks R18+ games will make it worse, well how can it? when i was 12 i bought a pack containing GTA III Vice City, San Andreas and LCS for $100. with R18 you'll need to show an ID to get them.

Krammin
Krammin

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Fists1
Fists1

I think that Atkinson's supporters must belive so much that video games make people strange and antisocial that they're scared to admit their position

-Squirrel-
-Squirrel-

How is this even an issue?? How in this good and wise world do we still worry about censorship of media? Situations like this just further embarrasses the Australian government and bestows sympathy to the nation's residents. But Aussies you have to fix this. Anytime you have an election, oppose anyone pro-censorship and get some more open-minded people in your government. Once the curtain of censorship is repealed, it would be hard to put back in place by anyone else.

TurambarGS
TurambarGS

HA! So where's the support you claimed you had, Mr SA Attorney-General? And even if it was there in private - it'll disappear the moment the responses to the discussion paper come in as it is my assumption that the responses will be overwhelmingly in favour of introducing the rating. Meanwhile, Christian Porter's response here is just smart aleccy - just because you can't change something without consensus doesn't mean you don't have an opinion on it.

Valas_Azuviir
Valas_Azuviir

Could be that Atkinson is indeed full of it. Could also be that Porter and McClelland are more than happy to let Atkinson take all the heat, considering their non answers, And that's pretty much what their replies are, they give no indication of where they stand, not even if they're undecided at this point, which is the case with most of the others, waiting for the discussion papers and consultations. So it's a bit hard to say, most of Atkinson's claims (which were published before) were pretty much full of malarkey. So I'd initially lean towards him lying about the support issues. But non-answers always tend to make me a bit suspicious. So, it's pretty much wait and see for the discussion paper/consultations and then see what the responses are, to find out who's on the up and up and who isn't.

Mattyrock
Mattyrock

*sigh* Mr. Atkinson, what kind of fail were you triyng to pull their when you're "not the only minister who agrees with me" when they're so obviously objecting? ...Why to do people waste their time with this guy?

pharcyde1521
pharcyde1521

PEDANTICS FTW!! I'm with you homie!! Kerchinng!!

p-mor111
p-mor111

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Generic_Dude
Generic_Dude

I think it's pretty clear that an R18+ rating is needed in Australia. The current rating system is clearly incompatible with the freedoms that Australians demand and are entitled to.

pedantics
pedantics

I want R18+ games to spend my free $950 on!

aaronobst
aaronobst

Michael Atkinson seems to be using his mainstream fame to mask the core components of his argument

bloomper
bloomper

Regardless, if they do bring out a classification or not, we can still import games and/or download them. Be that Legally or Illegaly.

gameking5000
gameking5000

It's going to be quite a while before the final decision happens. I'm still supportive of a 18+ rating. In fact I believe we can take a step up. Gaming should be heavily restricted, I believe

eric_neo3
eric_neo3

Down with inbreading paper work

InfectX
InfectX

Down with the Labor Party!

spacemariens22
spacemariens22

hopefully they will see that we need an R18 system i think Atkinson time has passed and he is still trying to enforce his ethics on a generation that is much diffrent to his it seems he is a lone wolf on this issue not the pack leader he claims to be!

johnnyauau
johnnyauau

Well I live in ACT and I'm pleased about it. I hope this is a turning point that we Australians can go beyond the MA15+ and go to a new level with R18+. Had this not come out, I'll be bored already. Anyway, I hope my wish for games, doesn't have to go through such scrutiny over violence, sex, course language and drug use. I pray things will work out.

1Dimi1
1Dimi1

@Infrared187 no actually Australia isn't a democracy... Australia isn't completely independent and self-sustaining yet. And due to the current economic struggle everyone seems to be experiencing, it doesn't look like we will be very soon. Unfortunately our government, although a just government, still has a lot of holes with its system. This discussion paper is what's going to give the public a voice in helping everyone decide what should happen. In my personal opinion I think too many people are making too many excuses. The research has been done extensively already - violent games don't corrupt young minds. I do agree that children should in no way play violent games or watch violent movies. If anything we need the government to implement penalties for stores selling higher rated games to children. The R18+ rating would also help with this.

Infrared187
Infrared187

I still don't understand why the decision has to be unanimous. Aren't we a democracy? There doesn't have to be a unanimous decision when voting for government or passing legislation in Parliament, so why this?

2x4b96123
2x4b96123

we need this rating. as it stands, many games are just scraping through the MA15+ rating when they really should be rated higher but it would impact the industry cus a higher rating means banning

2x4b96123
2x4b96123

fosters... Australian for horse piss

St_muscat
St_muscat

Great to hear that some attorneys (Vic and ACT) have common sense.

ryan_returns29
ryan_returns29

@Orayus: Funny how Americans still know nothing about Australia. Hardly anyone in Australia even drinks Fosters beer (but instead beers made/imported by the Fosters group). Anyway, back on topic, at least there's still hope for an R18+ rating for games. It's interesting to see that some states still have an undecided opinion on the matter.