NSW backs R18+ for games

NSW Attorney General Greg Smith announces NSW Cabinet has given "in-principle" support to the introduction of an adult classification for video games.

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Last month, Australia's federal, state, and territory attorneys-general agreed to an "in-principle" decision to introduce an R18+ rating for video games. At the time, NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith abstained from the R18+ vote but declared his intention to take the matter back to his Cabinet before formulating a final position.

Despite Smith's decision to abstain from voting, Federal Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor announced at the time that the federal government would move ahead with introducing R18+ for games based on the support from the remaining states and territories.

Now, it appears Smith's government has agreed to back the other jurisdictions in their support of introducing an adult rating for games in Australia.

In a statement to the ABC today, Smith's office announced the NSW government's formal support of R18+ for games after Smith presented the issue to his Cabinet.

"Few people would dispute the value of a classification system that helps keep adult material beyond the reach of children," Smith said in the statement. "With strong classification guidelines in place, an R18+ rating should result in violent games currently rated MA15+ in Australia being reclassified as adults-only, as they already are in many other countries. ''

Smith also announced he will work with other attorneys-general on drafting the national R18+ for games guidelines that have been developed for the new ratings system.

UPDATE: The Federal Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor welcomed NSW's decision today.

"I am delighted that NSW has decided to support what is not just a practical public policy, but a very popular policy," O'Connor said in a statement to the media. "The introduction of an R18+ classification for computer games will provide better advice to parents and help prevent children and teenagers from accessing unsuitable material. Once introduced, the new classification will also afford adults the opportunity to view material designed for adults."

"It is a credit to all jurisdictions that the meeting has now been able to achieve agreement over what is a complex matter in classification policy."

According to O'Connor's office, the government is preparing to legislate and introduce R18+ for games by implementing a number of proposed changes to the R18+ guidelines, changes that "will ensure that games containing high-level violence are restricted to adults" and that "games containing extreme violence will continue to be refused classification and banned from sale altogether."

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