In July last year, Australian gamers rejoiced at the news that federal, state, and territory censorship ministers reached an in-principle agreement to introduce an R18+ classification for video games in Australia. At the time, former Federal Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor revealed that the introduction of the R18+ bill would happen in the February 2012 session of parliament.
However, O'Connor was reassigned to a new portfolio during the federal government's ministerial reshuffle late last year, with former Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare named the new Federal Minister for Home Affairs in his place. Despite inheriting O'Connor's portfolio, including the issue of R18+, Clare has so far been silent on his intentions for the adult classification for games.
Now, speaking to GameSpot AU, Clare's office has revealed that the minister will stick to the previously announced timeline for R18+ and will introduce the R18+ for games bill in the first session of this year's parliamentary sittings, due to commence on February 7.
"Our plans are to introduce the R18+ bill in the first session of parliament this year," a spokesperson for Clare's office told GameSpot AU. "If it passes the Lower House, it will then go to the Senate for the same process."
In order for the R18+ bill to be passed through the Lower House (House of Representatives), Clare's office says it requires the support of at least two crossbench MPs. The crossbench MPs are Rob Oakeshott, Tony Windsor, Andrew Wilkie, Bob Katter, and Greens MP Adam Bandt, who have remained silent on their stance over R18+ to date.
To pass through the Senate, the bill will require the support of either the coalition or the Greens, both of which are sympathetic to the R18+ issue; in November 2010, Federal Opposition Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis voiced his sympathy towards the R18+ cause, while the Greens have showed their support in the past.
GameSpot AU will continue to update this story.