For the first time in the history of the Australian R18+ for games issue, a poll of all federal, state, and territory attorneys-general has revealed that a majority support the introduction of the adult classification.
GameSpot AU spoke to all nine ministers who will be responsible for voting on the introduction of R18+ for games at the upcoming Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) meeting in July. Of these nine, six stated their public support for R18+: the federal government, Tasmania, Queensland, South Australia, Northern Territory, and the ACT. The remaining three states--NSW, Victoria, and Western Australia--declared they are still making their decision based on a set of preliminary guidelines for the classification, which was agreed to at the last SCAG meeting in December.
For an adult classification for games to be introduced, all of Australia's state, territory, and federal governments must unanimously agree on its implementation.
This is the fourth time in two and a half years that GameSpot AU has surveyed Australia's attorneys-general. The first survey, conducted in February 2009, found that South Australia was opposed to R18+ for video games; Victoria and the ACT were in support of R18+; and NSW, Queensland, the Northern Territory, Tasmania, Western Australia, and the federal government all declined to state a position.
The second survey, conducted in February 2010, found only one supporter of R18+: the ACT. The rest of the states and territories stated no position or declined to comment.
The third survey, conducted in December 2010, found Tasmania, the ACT, and the federal government in support of R18+, with all other states and territories stating no position.
The federal government and the Federal Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O'Connor--who leads the R18+ issue at SCAG--are in support of R18+.
Below are the responses from the attorneys-general on their stance on R18+ for games in Australia.
Attorney-General Christian Porter
"The matter will go to [WA] Cabinet soon, after which the Western Australian government will announce its position," a spokesperson told GameSpot AU. At a meeting of the Western Australian Liberal Party's State Council in December last year, delegates voted on and passed a motion urging Porter to support the introduction of a nationwide R18+ classification for games.
Attorney-General Lara Giddings
"The Tasmanian Government supports in principle the introduction of an R18+ classification for computer games," a spokesperson for the minister told GameSpot AU in December last year.
Attorney-General Greg Smith
"We will be considering the issue ahead of the SCAG meeting in July," a spokesperson told GameSpot AU.
Attorney-General Delia Lawrie
"As Attorney-General, I am supportive of the R18+ classification system for video games. Attorneys-General have been working through the details of the classification guidelines, and I remain hopeful of a national agreement in July at our next meeting," Lawrie told GameSpot AU.
Attorney-General John Rau
Rau told GameSpot AU last month that he supports the introduction of R18+ for games and that he intends to implement the adult rating and abolish MA15+ in South Australia, pending a federal government move to introduce R18+ at a federal level should a unanimous agreement not be reached at SCAG in July.
Attorney-General Simon Corbell
Corbell told GameSpot AU last month that he is willing to "go it alone" on R18+ and follow South Australia's example should a unanimous agreement not be reached at SCAG in July.
Attorney-General Robert Clark
"The Baillieu Government will decide our position once we see the final guidelines that the Commonwealth wants us to agree to, and can see whether or not those guidelines will adequately protect the community," a spokesperson told GameSpot AU.
Attorney-General Paul Lucas
"Fundamentally, these laws should be regulated by the Commonwealth Government. Queensland wants to ensure there are strong safeguards so this type of material can only be viewed by adults. Like Queensland, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference supports a new adult classification. Ironically, not having this protection means some games classified MA15+ are unsuitable for their intended audience. Introducing this classification will give parents the confidence that the classification on the games matches the content. It also gives adults the right to choose the sort of games they wish to play. The proposed changes do not in any way affect the ability of authorities to refuse classification to games that go beyond accepted community standards," Lucas told GameSpot AU.
For more on the issue, visit GameSpot AU's previous coverage. GameSpot AU will be reporting live from the SCAG meeting in July.