Following the announcement last week that the long-awaited public consultation on the introduction of the R18+ classification for video games in Australia will be released to the public by the office of the commonwealth minister of Home Affairs, Bob Debus, details emerged today about how the consultation will work.
Although no release date for the discussion paper has been confirmed, a spokesperson for Mr Debus has told GameSpot AU that the public consultation will close on July 31, 2009. The paper will be revised to include suggestions made by SCAG censorship ministers, including South Australian attorney general Michael Atkinson, on the kind of material that could appear in an R18+ game were the classification introduced. These revisions will come in the form of information and advice, a change that Mr Atkinson has been pushing for since November last year.
"This information will be added to the existing overview of the arguments for and against the R18+ rating already included in the discussion paper," Mr Debus's spokesperson said.
Once released, the discussion paper will be available on the Commonwealth Attorney-General's website, where anyone can view it and comment on it via email, post or fax. Mr Debus announced that his office would be taking over the release of the paper after censorship ministers stood divided about its contents at the Standing Committee of Attorneys General (SCAG) meeting in Canberra last week.
"SCAG (Censorship) meetings operate on a cooperative basis and have done so successfully for many years," Mr Debus's spokesperson said. "The Commonwealth decided to move forward due to the difference of opinions on the content of a joint paper. SCAG members agreed that the Commonwealth should take the lead and consider the release of a discussion paper to progress this important issue.
"The minister for Home Affairs [Bob Debus] has made it clear to the censorship ministers that consideration of this issue needs to reflect the view of the public."
The discussion paper is currently being revised. Stay tuned to GameSpot AU for more information about its upcoming release.