The transcript from Federal Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor's press conference at the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General in Canberra announcing the R18+ delay.
During Friday's Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) meeting in Canberra, where federal, state, and territory attorneys-general met to discuss the possible introduction of an R18+ classification for video games, Federal Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor held a press conference to announce the final decision of ministers on the issue.
After four and a half hours of deliberation, the attorneys-general agreed to draft preliminary guidelines on the introduction of an R18+ classification for video games in Australia, effectively delaying the decision on whether or not to introduce the adult rating.
What follows is a video and transcript of the press conference where O'Connor told the media of the ministers' decision.
Federal Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor:
Thanks very much everyone and thanks for waiting.
The attorneys-general meeting today agreed to consider guidelines for R18 classification for video games. Thereís a general view that we need to ensure we have the most effective classification scheme for video games in this country.
Firstly, to provide better protection for children, for minors, and better parental guidance. So that when parents buy video games they know what theyíre buying, what the likely content of that material is...and thereís been questions around whether in fact we have suitable classification levels. And for that reason, whilst there is not an agreement upon introducing R18 classification for video games today, there is a view that we should draft guidelines.
Those guidelines should have regard to the difference between film and video games. Those guidelines should also contemplate, for example, possibility of redefining MA15 if there was to be the introduction of R18 classification. Refused classification will be maintained because there is some material--that is the view of the attorneys and I--that is offensive and should not be accessed by anybody. As is the case with film.
So this, in my view, is a step forward to ensuring we properly consider the current classification scheme in this country.
Gamers have grown up, games have grown up; we need to make sure we have a classification scheme thatís grown up as well. We have to deal with convergence of technology; we have to deal with convergence of forms of entertainment like film and games. We have to deal with the constant downloading of information by people in this country.
So this is a huge challenge that will require not just regulation, in my view, but better information, better education, a more informed public so that we can do the right thing insofar as allowing adults to access certain material for their entertainment, but, importantly, ensure better protection and better parental guidance for families in this country.
Iím happy to take any questions on that matter.
Journalist: So you donít have a specific agreement today, but is there "in principle" support from all the states and territories for R18?
Brendan O'Connor: What needs to happen, of course, is we need to ensure that the guidelines are agreed upon. Until guidelines are drafted, it is very difficult for people to agree upon the proposition. So, what Iím very comforted by is the attorneys and I agreed that we needed to flesh out this particular proposal. So that we know what weíre talking about. What is RC? What is R18, if there is to be R18? And what is MA15? What I do know is that there are MA15-classified games in this country that are only accessed by adults in comparable countries. I think thatís a concern to parents. I think thatís a concern to adults who play games as well. And I believe that thereís a consensus around the table about some of the material getting into MA15, but Iíll allow the attorneys to speak for themselves on that matter. But whatís important now is that we work on those guidelines to properly define what we mean by those classification levels with a view to introducing R18 classification for video games.
But itíll only be at that point where we reach agreement on the guidelines themselves, authored by the government--not by independent bodies--but by the attorneys, their offices, advised by others, of course, if required. Itís only until weíve done that...can we really know whether weíve reached agreement on this matter. So, there is some way to, but this hasnít been stopped here. This is now moving forward, and thatís a good thing.
Weíll be looking to bring back, well, the drafting will commence quite soon. Weíll be looking to bring this particular matter back to the next SCAG meeting early in the new year. So, there will be a lot of work to be done in relation to drafting guidelines for a potential change to the classification system for video games in this country. After those guidelines have been drafted, the respective governments can make their call on their position.
Journalist: WA said it was willing to support an R rating for video games providing M and R were properly defined, as you were talking about?
Brendan O'Connor: Again, Iím not going to speak for other jurisdictions. I can only say that everyone agreed that we needed to look at the guidelines; look at the detail. The devilís always in the detail in these matters. Look at what we are looking to define. If weíre to have an R18 classification level, we have to look at how that impacts on MA15.
Now, we are concerned that some of the games have got into MA15 classification level in this country. That is, some of the games that are played by 15-year-olds in this country are played by adults only overseas, and I think around the table, there was concern about that issue.
So we have to look at how would an R18 level relate to an MA level, as well as an RC level? And I think there is a lot of goodwill about considering a new approach, if we can reach agreement on the detail.
Journalist: So youíre saying that a lot of these games that would likely be given an R rating now are probably already being played in Australia under an M rating anyway?
Brendan O'Connor: I know there are games--some of which are modified, some of which are only modified in a negligible sense--that are played in this country by 15-year-olds that are only played by adults overseas, and that is the case. I think that is an issue. And the other issue is the average age of gamers is 30. People want to be able to enjoy their form of entertainment, and I do think thereís a good argument about the need to have a classification level for adults. But in the end, it will come down to the guidelines because that will be the detail, which will provide opportunities for all governments to consider whether we can reach a consensus.
Journalist: And you are confident that you will get an R rating?
Brendan O'Connor: I'm confident that everyone is genuinely looking at improving the classification scheme in this country, to protect children, to provide better parental guidance for parents, and where possible, of course, allow adults to access information and forms of entertainment, which they expect to be able to do...which adults around the world get to do.
I think there is a genuineness in the room. Thereís been a genuine effort to consider how we do those things. Itís not just providing access, particularly games by adults; itís protecting children, providing better parental guidance but also allowing for the opportunity for adults to access information that children shouldn't.
For more on the issue, visit GameSpot AU's previous coverage.
And the Aussie National Anthem has in it 'young and free'? ..To be honest i think the R18+ classification is misleading for many a gamer and really it does not affect me if we have it or don't have it. I am only hoping the R18+ will slow down or help prevent the banning of some video games and prevent content in some games from being removed. This might not be as good as it sounds especially when they want to change a lot of guidelines, overall this will affect between 15 and 18yr olds i reckon.
Oh God. This is just... Silly. I care about this issue a lot, but it really is getting out of hand. It's like someone runs into your house and randomly kicks you in the crotch. Just hurry the hell up. Scrapping MA15+ can not be an option.
@lemmeplay96 I see where you're coming from but God Of War could be an exception to that where you input stick movements and button commands to perform the act. The screen does move away from what's actually happening though although you can clearly hear it. I love God Of War though I find this whole issue rather ridiculous.
I honestly don't understand why the Attorney-General for NSW brings up the "inter-activity" arguement again. This is obviously aimed towards games with sexual content, but the only sexual content in games are in cutscenece (correct me if I'm wrong) and a cutscene is, is it's simplest form, a shot film in which you do not interact with. These issues should not be decided by people who have no experience with the medium and down-right have no idea what they are talking about.
guys lets just face facts we are not going to see an adult rating for games in Australia its just one of those things that is going to get swept aside and forgotten about. sure, the issue will surface from time to time but it wont go any further than that. don't get me wrong i support the idea of introducing adult ratings for games but lets be real here it just wont happen
This has gone beyond a joke now. If modern parents are not technically minded enough to activate modern console "family settings" then they should not be parents in the first place.
can politicians just go rock in their rocking chairs and knit or something? leave issues like this to gamers who it actually concerns, rather than you deciding for us a matter that you dont actually care about, as it doesnt influence your life as a non-gamer. (yes i know im dreaming about a system that is actually logical, oh well.)
theyre trying to get out of it the beuracratic fools, review ma15 to be just alittle stronger..a complete and utter failure...no such thing as freedom you must watch and do what we say
Still, if there was an R18+ rating in Australia, we won't get any of the adult Japanese games because they are more from the indie Japanese market that are not even sold in America or European shops. We will just be getting the games that are popular over the American markets and even in the UK and Europe markets. If the AGs think that changing the rules of classification will allow for extreme content, then they may not have known about the games market and how it runs as well as that they may have forgotten that Australia ALSO has another adult rating called the X18+ rating.
Not matter what we say or do, it is the politicians who make the decisions and also give them a little creddit too with this current bunch of AGs, we are milles ahead from where we were when Mr Atkinson used to be in power. The politicians think that this problem is hard to solve, but in reality they kinda don't realise it is really easy. But then they are perhaps thinking more of the lines of thinking that R18+ rated games are harmful when in reality they arn't and they should just focus on trying to get the best communication to parents which is in reality what the R18+ rating for games is meant to do.
@ferus_prime Actually, I think iffy situations like that are quite easy to solve. Any game sold before the date that the Law is changed is applicable under the old laws, wheras any game sold after that date is applicable under the new laws. That way, a 16 year old who legally bought a game like Call of Duty would still be playing any games he bought before the introduction of the new laws legally, but would still fall under the new laws. As far as classifying new games goes, I reckon a similar thing would apply. Any games that have already been classified (e.g Fallout NV, Black Ops, etc) would remain with the rating given to them under the old laws, wheras any new games being sent through the Classification Board would be subjected to the new laws. I know it hardly seems fair, but it's the most logical and effective way to introduce the new rating system. OT: It all sounds kinds of promising and shaky at the same time. What's really important is that the Attourney-Generals are aware that there are games that are being sold to minors here that should really be sold only to adults. Everyone's got their fingers crossed.
I can see where the real hard part of this thing comes in. Imagine a 19 year old that's been drinking for a year, has been buying from a shop for that year. One day, a law is put into effect that you can't drink until you're 21. What does the shop do? He's been a customer for a year and has done regular commerce with them. MA15+ games, or at least some of them, becoming R18+ under a new classification raises those problems. Someone that's bought Call of Duty at age 15 now cant legally buy it because the rating is upped due to violence. Iffy situations like that are hard to solve. But we at least DO have R18+ coming, it's authorized... We just have some minor problems to work out first.
Laura Parker looks good in her dress. The R18+ for Aussie games is still a long way off. As long as MA15+ games are dominating, it's still absurd that all those games would be allowed for people over 15, making it hard for the classification board to draw a line between contents that can be saved and contents that's made for adults but its censored so it can pass the censor or worse, gets totally banned. I'll have to wait until March to know what happens next.
good start but how hard is it to see what needs to be done? i guess we just have to be content with baby steps...
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