Well, stuff it anyway. It's a hung parliament and we may be back to the voting booth in a couple of weeks. This time I'm going to drop a turd in the ballot box on my way out.
Attention Aussie gamers! The 2010 federal election is just around the corner, and while the mainstream media may think it's covering all the big issues, it's neglecting one very important topic: which major political party has the best policies for gamers? In this GameSpot AU feature, we check in with the Labor Party, the Coalition, and the Greens to gauge their views on four important gaming-related issues in an effort to help you decide who will get your vote on August 21. We're also going to help you make your voice heard, with an e-mail form that you can send directly to your current Federal member letting that member know you're a gamer and you're an important part of the political spectrum. So read on to find out each party's views, and then head on over to our automated form to send your letter and get politically involved!
Itís a tough job convincing politicians to change their minds, but Aussie gamers have done it. Issues like R18+ for games are now on the political agenda thanks to the efforts of the local gaming community, who have worked together with industry bodies like the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (iGEA) and the Game Developers Association of Australia (GDAA) to make their voice heard.
But the fight is not over just yet. A federal election is just around the corner, which means gamers must work harder, faster, and more united than ever before to put the issues that matter to them in the public forum. Things move quickly in politics: whatís important today will be forgotten tomorrow. Policy makers must not forget how important gamers are to the cultural landscape of Australia. Gamers have to engage them in debate and remind them of what will matter to them most come polling day.
In this feature, GameSpot AU has highlighted four key issues for Aussie gamers: the fight for an R18+ classification, low broadband speeds, the threat of the proposed Internet filter, and the struggling Australian video game development industry. We handpicked ministers from each of the three major political parties--Labor, Liberals, and the Greens--and asked them what specific pledges they can make in regard to these four issues ahead of the election. All this is designed to help you make an informed decision on who gets your vote.
At the end of this feature you will find a letter template outlining each of the four issues. This letter is meant for your local member. Complete the blank fields, and follow the instructions to send the letter on. Local members are required to reply, so this is the best way to ensure that these issues are flagged. Remember, a collective voice is the best way to make sure that what gamers have achieved so far does not go to waste. Ultimately, it's you who must make sure this all counts for something. Itís the only way forward.
THE ISSUE: R18+ for games in Australia
Australia remains one of the only countries in the Western world without an adult classification for video games. This means that any video game rated above an MA15+ rating by the Classification Board of Australia, the industry body that rates all material and content in Australia, is refused classification (RC) and effectively banned for sale locally.
In order for the R18+ classification to be introduced, all state, territory, and federal attorneys-general must unanimously agree to its introduction. To date, this has not happened. A public consultation into the issue was released in December 2009 and closed in February 2010. A preliminary report into the results of the consultation showed that 98.2 percent were in favour of introducing R18+ for games. The Federal Home Affairs department is currently reviewing the consultation. According to Federal Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor, classification ministers have requested further analysis of community and expert views before a final decision on R18+ for games can be made.
Below are the classification questions we posed to the respective Labor, Liberal, and Greens ministers. Their responses follow.
Do you support the introduction of an R18+ rating? Why/why not?
Will you be making mention of this issue throughout the upcoming election? If so, how?
What will happen to this issue should you win government? Will you advocate for change or do you see it as something that is not of particular importance when considering the big picture?
Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan OíConnor:
"This is a matter for classification ministers and an agreement must be reached that satisfies all states and territory governments before changes can be made to that nation's classification system. The strength of arguments on both sides must be considered. What is needed is the right decision, not a rushed decision.
"At their meeting on 7 May 2010, the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General released a status report on the consultations. The report shows that about 60,000 submissions were received and that approximately 98 percent supported the introduction of an R18+ classification.
"That report showed polarised views for and against an R18+ classification. Classification ministers agreed at that meeting that further work needs to be done before a decision can be made, including ascertaining the views of the silent majority. It is not just the weight of numbers that need to be considered. It is also the strength of arguments on each side. Ministers are aware of the support for the proposal shown by the number of submissions received. However, they are also aware of the wide range of views on this issue in the community.
"Ministers have made a commitment to discuss the issue at a future meeting and have requested further analysis of community and expert views to better understand the arguments on each side."
Shadow Minister for Tourism, the Arts, Youth and Sport, Steven Ciobo:
"Earlier this year, the federal government concluded a consultation period following the release of a discussion paper on the inclusion of R18+ games in the National Classification Scheme. The government has committed to providing the Coalition with a copy of the submissions received as part of this consultation period.
"On behalf of the Coalition, as the shadow minister for the arts, I received a formal briefing from departmental officials from the Attorney-General's Department following the release of the discussion paper.
"It is important to note that a change to the National Classification Scheme requires unanimous agreement among Australia's censorship ministers. Any change to the National Classification Scheme must now be considered in the context of the feedback the government received as part of the consultation period.
"The Coalition is committed to engaging with all Australians on this issue throughout the election campaign."
Australian Greens Senator for Western Australia, Scott Ludlam:
"The Greens support the introduction of an R18+ classification for video games in Australia. We believe that it is time to change the system. It is bizarre that Australia is one of the only countries in the Western world without an adult classification for games. We believe that a change to the classification system should occur in the next term in parliament.
"The Greens will continue to support a campaign for R18+ for games. We also believe that the games industry and gamers have done a really good job of highlighting the issue and putting it on political agenda. We're going to play our part in parliament and the community to make sure people know about the issue. We plan to raise this issue during our upcoming federal election campaign and make sure it is part of the debate." Click on the Next Page link to see the rest of the feature!
It's funny how the Liberals are unable to provide the details of their policies at the time of publication. It's because they don't have any policies to provide.
You people are kidding yourselves if you think these issues are actually important in the national context. I'm as big a gamer as the next guy, but to even consider basing your vote on these factors shows an extremely underdeveloped view of the true issues facing the country. At the end of the day, gaming is a hobby, and while it may be important to us, to actually suggest that it should be any sort of significant contributing factor as to who gets our vote would be to inflict a fairly significant blight on our collective intelligence and maturity.
I'm in agreeance with a lot of you, I think the Greens should be running the country, both Labour and Liberal are just making a mess of things. Each time one announces a policy, the other opposses it, the only time that they agreed on something was on helping the American troops in Iraq and Afganistan. Hopefully Australia does get an R18+ for games soon, I don't even have a reason anymore, we just need one:P!
A surplus is better than a deficit mate. I liked it when stuff was cheap and the aussie dollar was strong. I can live with a few more homeless people on the street, heck most of them are homeless cause they never helped themselves to start with. Half of them could join the army or do something productive where you dont need a brain. Better then labor coming in and raping all us actual working population to give to all you dodgey poor buggers.
A surplus eh? Have you ever wondered how the Libs got that in the first place? They raped the entire nation and finished us off with cleaning out our super, topping it off with a credit crunch right at the end of their term. Don't forget the homeless rate went up dramatically whilst they were in power.. and if they come in again, we'll be seeing more of that. They will do nothing for Education and Medical. They don't even have a plan for the economy. It's all a big "we'll see how she goes" attitude that is just not good enough. I hope the Independents steer clear of this Abbott monkey.
@flaylover I agree with you, you can't trust Labor, but people are giving you the thumbs down because you're spamming, not because you're wrong. I think i'll get them soon aswell, iv'e made 3 comments in like 4mins lol.
@crashish Labor have done jack all to fix the internet, and who cares about it anyway, there are more important things then faster download times. The only reason people (teenagers) want faster download times is so they can download porn at a quicker rate. Pathetic, you idiots would choose internet + deficit over a surplus for the economy...
Can't trust the greens, i'm sure they would bring out a R18+ classification but that doesn't mean they know how to run the country.
Out of the three parties, The Greens stands out. No gimmicks, no trickery, it's totally straight forward. The Greens better put the R18+ for games issue on the table with Labor and Liberal Party.
There was a hilarious sex party worker at the Bourke Street public school (electorate of Sydney); she kept on harrassing this poor Liberal voter who didn't have a voting sheet in his hand. I took the National Broadband Network policy into account with my vote, but gaming overall had limited importance. My ability to buy R18+ games at EB in an age where digital and physical distribution are neck and neck is just not an issue of particular significance to me. I am far more concerned about policies to address education, infrastructure and the environment and I challenge anyone with a scrap of perspective to demonstrate that marginally more convenient access to certain games outweighs them. Having said that, I probably shouldn't be surprised if I'm shouted down. I've followed too many attempts at conversation in the trade channel on Khaz'goroth to believe that there aren't people that feel their unrestricted right to computer games outweighs the future of their children.
I just got back. Took an hour at lineup but it was fun. A guy threatened to urinate on a Liberal pamphlet if the volunteer gave it to him. The volunteer didn't of course lol. Vote Greens at number 1 and Labor at number 2 if you're a gamer. Once the Greens get knocked out, they're votes will go to Labor. If the Greens gain more seats in the House of reps and Senate, they can overthrow all the stupid net filter plans and anti-R18 decisions.
It sure is getting crowded up on the fence... I'm sorry but just because Greens back the idea of R18 games does not mean they are getting my vote. While it is an issue I am watching, its not the most important, hypothetically if our country went into a downward economic spiral due to the wrong policies and action or lack there of, how is me playing a violent version of Left 4 Dead going to help? What's scary is that GS is posting almost seeming to try and to sway votes, in my opinion, is dangerous. Surely economics, education, health, security, etc are more important. I'm actually a little disappointed to see this article, its not that it was brought up, its the way it was brought up. "...gauge their views on four important gaming-related issues in an effort to help you decide who will get your vote on August 21"
Labor wont get the internet filter passed anyway no one else wants it liberal says NO the greens say NO thats it done and done it wont happen even barrack obama questioned it most powerful man in the world Google creators are against it like 3rd most powerful people in the world
For those concerned about the idea of the Australian broadband filter, most of the policy on that comes from a man named Stephen Conroy. There is a website set up called http://filter-conroy.org/ which basically wants to do just what the name suggests... Filter Stephen Conroy from government, rather than letting him filter our internet. No matter who you choose to vote for, there are voting guides showing how you can do it below the line, and hopefully help to filter Stephen Conroy out of parliament. Check it out if the issue is important to you. :)
@ triple_punse without labor. you wouldnt be getting decent internet downloads or better lines. liberals say they're goin to put some in. but why stop what has been started?
I am lucky to be a Malaysian My country is a free country and i feel sorry for the people who live in Australia :(
If you havent heard, the Shooters & Fishers party has supported gamers from the very start, helping spread the R18+ papers around. Maybe an alternative if you dont like the Greens.
Even if the nbn goes ahead, telstra will be the only company getting it which is reason enough to say no. QLD has been ruined by a labor government, our roads, health system and all the bs scandals.
I'm very thankful to be an American. First Amendment FTW. The idea that the government can censor and ban video games "for your own good" is so contrary to the idea of freedom, it's almost unreal.
flaylover please stop posting here...you are illiterate and your political "viewpoint" is riddled with blatent bias and incorrect information
@Roo6339 sorry didn't see your post and whoever said i wanted to do politics just giving my view point and the grammer i do computer brail and i know what your going to say how do you play games if your blind thats my problem
@Acid_Kenobi yep and if labor gets in i won't be able to do this anymore with there filter so why not now lol and calm down it's just politics
@flaylover... See this little dot here? "." It's known as a full stop and it makes what you write legible. If you want to appear smart and get involved in politics, try and make your posts readable.
@ flaylover - I feel it's more of a discussion, really :) To say that Greens will just go along with whatever Labor says is pure speculation. There are subjects that they disagree on (i.e. same sex marriage, population control) and Sen. Bob Brown is passionate about his policies, so he's not just going to backflip to keep the ALP happy. You make it sound like they're in cahoots! I'm not entirely sure what the UN has to do with this debate, either. 192 countries in the world don't mind the UN enough to be members (by the way, that's including Australia, who have been a part of the UN since 1 Nov. 1945 - the Liberals have had plenty of time in power to cut ties, if they so wished).
@conpanbear yay an argument love it ok true true i didn't expect anyone here would be smart enough to look anything up ok well greens have never had the balace of power but they have had the chance to over rule and and double elect in the labor party but did they nope what i'm trying to get at is during an election the greens go aganist the labor and liberal plans and sorta make there own but if labor wins they say labor has great plans as seen when rudd came in and in the past when labor lost the greens say they had great plans it's just fishy to me Capitalism works - doesn't mean I have to vote for The Liberal Party it does when a labor goven has weird idea at the moment labor loves the UN now do some moree research for the history of the UN and you will see that arn't as holy as the labopr and even obama say they are and a vote for the green is a vote for labor means any greens that wins seats will support anything labor wants even if they denied it during the election
@flaylover I'm not sure if I follow. I've tried to look up some data on the Senate, and I can't find anything about the Senate being full seated by The Greens. It seems that of the 76 seats in the Senate, The Greens have 5 of them (http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/senators/homepages/index.asp?sort=party) - the highest number they've ever had in there. Also, there are no Greens in the House of Representatives (that's 0 out of 150 seats). I don't think this country could ever be at risk of being communist, especially whilst under the Queen as part of the Commonwealth. Capitalism works - doesn't mean I have to vote for The Liberal Party. Furthermore, I was under the impression that "a vote for the greens is a vote for labor" doesn't apply if you vote below the line, does it?
any i live in nsw witha laber state goven that is always screwing us over and getting in trouble for stealing money from the treaserly and you wounder why i won't trust labor hawk put us in debt + howard put us in the green again + rudd put us back into debt + julia buy water that does not exit see the pattern here i honestly think this labor NBN promie will fall through it wouldn't be the first time and before pple give me thunmbs down give me your arguement if you have one and are just cranky you know i'm telling the truth
To those of you saying that The Greens wouldn't be able to run the country, what are you basing this on? Just wanted to know, because other than never having had a Green PM, I can't really think why they couldn't...? Seems like shooting them down before they ever have the chance to prove themselves.
Whoever said fibre to the home would be outdated and is too expensive is mis-informed. Yes, it's a lot of money, but it's an investment which will set Australia up. And it's far from outdated. Fibre is at the speed of light, and can be ramped up when technology improves. Anyway, if being eventually outdated prevented us from building things, nothing would get done. Personally, I think none of the parties deserve to govern, but I prefer Labor because I desperately want the NBN to go ahead. I already have 120GB month at 20 MBps, but it's not about me, it's about the future of Australia.
oh yeah amd you pweople loving on the greens they say alot that sounds good but even when they owened the sen nothing ever happened they are all talk really
oh and my word for the day don't vote for who you think is the best party because there are none vote for who ever will do less damage example even tho howard made some bad choice he build a strong econemy which is why he got voted is so many times rudd was treated like a celeb and the best thing to ever happen and he started turn us isto a UN ass kissing commie loving country in less then one term and julia kicked him out but is doing the same tony even tho i don't like him real he is still safer for our free world life stye everyone hate private ect but look and the countrys that don't have it... 3rd world indeed
@BDL91 The greens pretty much. Pro NBN, R18+ Anti Filter or the australian sex party. same thing, but also against political correctness :D
@BDL91 i know right my sister pulled out the old dads dialup that he still pays for lol and she could run WOW on it or so she told me anyway well judging by this the greens but we know how annoing they are but tony abbot of the libs said last night he would deffenelty look into R18+ for games soooo....