Minister keen to make progress on R18+

Brendan O'Connor says he wants issue "progressed", but warns against speculation of outcomes of next censorship ministers' meeting; industry observers urge gamers to be optimistic.

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With the next Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) meeting just around the corner, the eye of every Aussie gamer will be firmly fixed on Canberra on December 10 with the expectation that a decision surrounding the introduction of an R18+ classification for video games will finally be reached.

However, Federal Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O'Connor (the Minister who has taken control of the R18+ issue in parliament) is warning gamers not to try to predict the outcome of the next SCAG meeting.

"The issue is on the agenda for the SCAG meeting on 10 December, and at that time, classification ministers will discuss the matter," O'Connor told GameSpot AU. "There’s little use to speculating about what will come out of that discussion, but I understand that the gaming community is keen to see this issue progressed, and I share that goal."

Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor says he wants to make progress on R18+ for games.

Just last month, O'Connor told GameSpot AU that despite an overwhelmingly positive response supporting an adult classification for video games in last year's public consultation, he and other classification ministers believe that more community views--what he terms "the silent majority"--are needed before a decision on R18+ for games can be made.

Ron Curry, CEO of the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (iGEA), is of a different opinion to O'Connor. He believes any further consultation would just confirm what the government already knows--that Australia is ready for an R18+ classification for video games.

"If there was an overwhelming objection to the issue, then I'm sure [the Australian public] would have been just as active in voicing their opposition as the supporters were," Curry told GameSpot AU. "[But] it simply didn't happen. I'm not sure that it's right to have a consultation, then dismiss the findings claiming that those who aren't gamers didn't give an opinion. Should we assume that for any overwhelming response to a government inquiry in the future that it's dismissed as only interested people contributed?"

"Let's not forget, according to Bond University's research, that 68 percent of all Australians play video games. I guess the government is looking for the remaining 32 percent, which is a dramatic minority of the population."

Curry urges gamers to remain optimistic about the upcoming SCAG meeting, despite his thoughts on the lack of commitment seen in the past.

"We've seen some steps forward with the public consultation, regardless of our thoughts on the outcome. There are indications that, at a federal level at least, the issue is being treated with some degree of seriousness. However, I would hope that we see some leadership on the issue. I hope SCAG either makes a decision, or commits to closure on the issue, because until now we've had procrastination, diffusion, and, largely, the issue has been ignored."

Former deputy director of the Classification Board of Australia, Paul Hunt, is of the view that gamers shouldn't hold their breath for any major decisions. He believes that classification ministers are unlikely to make any decision on the matter before they get what they want--that is, the views of "the silent majority."

"I am not aware that any experts or community groups have taken part in any further sharing of views," Hunt told GameSpot AU. "It doesn’t mean they haven't--just that the information hasn't been shared. Perhaps this has been done, and ministers will announce their latest findings. However, I would remain fairly neutral on expectations regarding a decision at the December meeting. SCAG is a ministerial council that deals with lots of important legal and other issues that have significant impact on the lives of all Australians. Classification is a very small part of it, and R18+ for games is a very small part of classification."

According to Hunt, entertainment content such as video games should not be a matter for a ministerial council such as SCAG. He believes this is one of the reasons why some ministers may be unwilling to make a decision that will be unpopular with people in the electorate, hence all the stalling on the issue.

"I don’t have a problem with the government making sure they have information and views from all sectors. That makes good sense. There is no need to isolate the non-gaming public. If you do that, you will be talking with less than one-third of Australians. However, the government has already asked everyone for their opinion. I don't agree with worrying about "the silent majority". It's garbage. The reason they are silent is because they don't give a s***! It's the old cop-out from the bleeding hearts: 'Everyone is too uneducated or frightened to realise or say how bad an R18+will be, so just listen to us and don't allow it. We speak for the silent majority.' What a load of crap."

Like Curry, Hunt believes that any further public consultation will not change the overwhelming support in Australia for an R18+ for games. He says the only purpose of further consultation is to delay a decision.

"Obviously, the discussion paper and consultation gave an overwhelming answer--and not just in terms of numbers. In my opinion, the strength of the [published] arguments supporting an R18+ are far greater than the strength of the arguments against. A cynical view may be that one or more ministers didn't get the answer they wanted out of the consultation, so they’ll keep asking the questions until they get the 'right' answer. I can't understand why they are delaying. If a minister doesn't want an R18+, just put the issue to a vote and vote against it. Any other response is pretty soft."

Classification ministers will meet on December 10 in Canberra to discuss R18+ for games. For more on the issue, or to submit a question to Brendan O'Connor, visit GameSpot AU's previous coverage.

Discussion

32 comments
burgo81
burgo81

they are waiting for the issue to die down, plain and simple. all they have to do is wait for one of us to crack the sads, smack one of the idiots and they will say "see, see i told you video games make people violent" no old farts with a bible makes me violent

isshiah
isshiah

my fist will make progress toward you face if you don't hurry up, damn it! seriously though, our ratings system if outdated and needs to be reviewed.

triple_punse
triple_punse

cool that hes keen to make progress, doesnt mean he will. politicians are liars

BodyBag22
BodyBag22

@burgo81 I'd retitle 2 as more 'ignorant' than anything else, 'do gooders' would indicate they're trying to prevent a bad or evil, and we all know this issue is about letting adults use adult products. We can all walk into a porn store and buy R18+ movies, but we're too immature to play explicit videogames? It's pretty sad.

jivemaster
jivemaster

Bloody hell, I'm sick of all the talk on this topic. Enough talk. It's not like a drug is trying to get legalised here. It's the implementation of a damn rating to the one and only form of media that doesn't have that rating available to it yet. All these meetings are a waste of time and taxpayer money. There's been a report stating there is no reason it shouldn't be implemented, there were petitions. WTF more do you want.

burgo81
burgo81

the silent majority, there a basically three sides to this argument 1. for(the gamers) 2. against(do gooders) 3. neutral(people who don't give a rats ass) when you get more signatures than the abolishment of work choices petition, that would a clear indicator of a majority that is not silent anymore

S3rialThrill3r
S3rialThrill3r

Oh well, I guess we can still import games until this gets resolved.

SIDEFX1
SIDEFX1

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

SIDEFX1
SIDEFX1

it wont get solved because we are a democracy

JimBob2424
JimBob2424

Typical political answer from O'Conner, says a lot but commits to nothing. I'm glad Paul Hunt has offered his opinions on the process, has enough credibility that he can't just be instantly dismissed for whatever inane reason the pollies decide on at the time.

TurambarGS
TurambarGS

I also disagree with the 'silent majority' argument. I could be wrong here, but didn't the last round of stats show that there were more people playing video games than not playing them? Therefore there is no 'silent majority' - there's the majority (who happen to play games) and an increasingly shrinking minority who don't play games (and who seem to be disturbingly ignorant on much surrounding the debate, including the actual content of games).

RockZillaX
RockZillaX

Ahhh bureaucracy in democracy... you can smell it in the air, like some distant sewage system in the distance you get the occasional whiff of. I resent being represented by idiots and liers SCAG just another inefficient and backward approach to hearing the people. Our embarrassing Government system of communication and connection is nearly as much of a debacle as the other half and its behaviour,, The focus of mankind consume and work for that high rise air conditioned luxury apartment and the mod cons, Even at the cost of our planet and the awareness to our spiritual connection to life, water, trees.. the things that the people before us knew.. Like the Aboriginals..or Native American Indians... hahaha ramble much sorry guys

natenation87
natenation87

Why should a "silent majority" get a say if they didn't care about it in the first place? Bring in an R18 rating already.

raptor1906
raptor1906

"keen to make progress on R18+" by doing nothing, wow thats gonna work out well isnt it?

jchip
jchip

Dismissing the largest petition in Australian history to seek the 'voice of the silent majority' is a crock. People who don't play games aren't qualified to comment and are unaffected by the outcome of the classification debate. It's like dismissing the views of regional towns and farming communities in favour of city-dwellers to decide the fate of the Murray-Darling water basin. Give gamers a voice and let us make the choice about which games we want to play.

AceBalls
AceBalls

Hunt is hilarious and O'Connor is nothing more than a vote hunter. If only he would share such enthusiasm as Hunt, then we'd have R18+ tonight. Speaking of votes, don't forget that awesome massive swing against that turd brained Atkinson at the last state elections... It was enough to make him panic and stand down his AG position to avoid further embarrassment. And as for the opinions of the "silent 32% majority" of Aussies.. well - no matter what the outcome, this simply makes no sense at all. The longer this stalls, the more tax payer money gets burnt for no reason.

Adap7ive
Adap7ive

What would this classification do exactly?

CamoBullo
CamoBullo

This doesn't sound intelligent whatsoever, but I'm just going to say it: HURRY THE EFF UP, AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT.

Shinkada
Shinkada

@S3rialThrill3r That is a very old question, and one that nobody has an answer for. Most politically-minded people realize democracy sucks, that's easy to realize, the hard part is finding something better. Anyway, I liked that Hunt guy, any politician who has the balls to call something a load of "s***" is cool in my books, even if he is an ex-politician. Anyone expecting an R18+ rating is insane. Einstein, wasn't it? "Insanity is repeating the same thing and expecting different results"? They don't care that it's the popular choice, and they care even less that they're being blatantly bias towards their fundamentalist beliefs and the fundamentalist tendency of Western politics in general. Just kick out the old bastards already, find some people under thirty who still have some hope and idealism left. Though, as per usual, can't really blame the "old bastards". I voted for the ASP, what's your excuse?

mrhagane
mrhagane

guys.. this is far better than banning violent game

S3rialThrill3r
S3rialThrill3r

@ThePeonWhoCould That's very nice and all, but if democracy doesn't work, what does?

ThePeonWhoCould
ThePeonWhoCould

DEMOCRACY FAIL. Australia desperately needs a system whereby the Australian public can vote on issues such as R18 ratings and gay marriage. Cause our politicans effing suck!! We tell them in plain english that we want an R18 rating and they simply ignore it. They are completely out of touch with the Australian public. Disgraceful. I'm ashamed to live in a country with such a pathetic political system.

dallasanderson1
dallasanderson1

well i cant wait, i am an aussie male and to be honest i cant wait for lots raw nudity,blood and guts everywhere...but that might be just me

2w-sephiroth
2w-sephiroth

It does not really bother me, as far as I think, they are so many games that deserve +18 and should be treated as porn/alcohol/cigarretes and parents will still buy the games for their 8 year old child. I remember I buying GTA san andreas for my little brother when he was like 12 and my mother broke it to pieces because he would get so hyper active and idiotic. My parents went bananas at me for buying such a game for him. Get the big picture and if Australia allows 18+ more games should enter in that category and they should advertise the importance of children not playing them, and we should consider the advantage of having more games for the adulthood and Game developers working for 18+

johnnyauau
johnnyauau

I hate to say this but I believe that's the biggest weakness in any politics: they'll keep asking until they get what they want. That seriously has to change. Priority must be people like gamers ahead of politics. We do not vote for the government if their job is to have a perfect 10 with their policies. No one wants to be treated like teenagers for the rest of our lives in Australia when it comes to games. If only they take a head on approach, rather than repeating spins and keeping secrets that is becoming too common like "the right decision, not the rush decision", it would've give me more reason to vote Labor. I've already voted Green as their approach is more straightforward and less spin when it comes to tackling issues, and I have to thank them to get involved. Anyway, R18+ is still a must if we want to have fewer banned videogames, rather than an out of date, draconian system, drawing the line between adults and kids.

eriktkire
eriktkire

@Krystyan68 hahaha, sad but true.

Krystyan68
Krystyan68

'Australia: Proudly 10 to 15 years behind the rest of the world.' ps: I'm an Ozzy.

HSV002
HSV002

I hope it is approved and we can all start playing R18+ asap. But knowing the State Attorney Generals they will come up with some other lame excuse to drag it into next year, or kill this issue compleatley.

benboz
benboz

I hope this government brings in the R18+ rating and then we won't have to have games that are toned down due to its violence etc. This will make games more easily to identify.

HurrGamurr
HurrGamurr

I used to care about this issue a great deal, but now it doesn't bother me greatly either way from a practical view point. I often import games anyway, so it doesn't greatly affect me if Australia retailers don't have access to a game. However, as a matter of principal, not having an R rating is utter BS.