Aussie minor parties show support for R18+

The Greens, the Australian Sex Party, and the Pirate Party profess support for R18+; Coalition says it will watch Michael Atkinson's movements "with interest."


Two months after the Australian government released a national discussion paper calling for public opinion on R18+ for games, the issue is finally making waves in the political sphere. After hearing the federal stance and the views of all state and territory Attorneys-General, other political parties, including the Greens and the Opposition, have put in their two cents.

The Federal Coalition has stepped forward, with Steven Ciobo, the Opposition spokesman for Small Business, Independent Contractors, Tourism and the Arts, telling GameSpot AU that his party will be watching the upcoming state election in South Australia "with interest."

Steven Ciobo.
Steven Ciobo.

“The Office of the Minister for Home Affairs has committed to providing the Opposition with a further briefing on the R18+ public consultation that has followed the discussion paper,” Ciobo said.

“The Coalition will consider the feedback from the public consultation. A briefing by departmental officials from the Attorney-General's department have confirmed the introduction of an R18+ classification for video games requires unanimous agreement from the Commonwealth and all state and territory Censorship ministers. The South Australian Attorney-General, The Hon Michael Atkinson MP, has been a particularly vocal critic of the proposal for an R18+ classification for games. We will therefore be watching the upcoming state election in South Australia with interest.”

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said the Greens plan to stay ahead of the R18+ debate in 2010.

“The Greens don’t have a formal position on the absence of an R18+ classification for video games just yet,” Ludlam said. “We plan on being informed by the material that comes through in the public consultation, and we’ll be forming an official stance soon. Personally, I’ve formed a view, and I suspect my colleagues have as well. We want to stay ahead of the debate this year, and we’re already talking to the industry and to people with a range of different views.”

Scott Ludlam.
Scott Ludlam.

“My personal stance is that [the absence of an R18+ for games] is a real anomaly. I think it’s making the situation worse. We know that in some instances material that should otherwise be classified R18+ is instead diverted into the MA15+ category. That’s a sign that there needs to be some kind of reform. I think we do need R18+ for games, but only on the condition that there is a good look at the way that we classify video games in this country to make sure that some of the very real concerns that have been raised by parents and child protection groups are acknowledged as well.”

Ludlam believes the R18+ discussion paper provides a reasonable summary of the arguments for and against the classification. But he says merely introducing R18+ will not solve problem of access as it applies to children and potentially harmful material.

Ludlam believes the public consultation will result in a solid base of reasonably well-researched support for a change to the system. His views on South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson are not so positive.

“I think the position he took to block the rest of the country from moving forward was really unhelpful, and I don’t think he necessarily provided the arguments to back up the position he took.”

These thoughts are echoed by marginal parties Australian Sex Party (ASP) and the Pirate Party Australia, who both support the introduction of R18+ for games. ASP was launched in November 2008 and became a full registered party in 2009 after the Australian Electoral Commission dealt with a number of complaints about the party’s name. The party now has around 3,000 members and recently participated in by-elections in the Bradfield and Higgins electorates where the party received the fourth highest primary vote and after preference distributions came third overall.

ASP founder Fiona Patten says, quite frankly, that Australia’s classification system is “f***ed.”

“Having worked as a lobbyist and an activist for the adult industry for nearly 20 years, I became demoralised by the fact that in 2008 we had more censorship than when I started,” Patten said. “There is simply no consistency across mediums in our classification system--what is legal in a book is not legal in a magazine, what is legal in a magazine is not legal in a film, and what is legal in a film is not legal in a video game. Personally, I think we should throw out the existing system and start again.”

Fiona Patten.
Fiona Patten.

Patten has been campaigning for an R18+, as well as an X rating for video games in Australia. She believes the argument against allowing these classifications into Australia is unsupported.

“Why shouldn’t adults play adult computer games? It is archaic that one state Attorney-General can stop the introduction of a national classification despite overwhelming community support. I think R18+ for games will actually assist parents in making decisions about what their children play. Of course, the main issue by far is that adults should have the right to choose what they view, read, or play, and the industry should not have to edit their creative product for the Australian market," she said.

Patten says she will support Gamers4Croydon in its bid to unseat Michael Atkinson in the upcoming South Australian state election.

“We will support them in any way we can, and I hope they might do the same for us. The seat of Croydon is a very, very safe Labor seat, so the chances of anyone knocking off Michael Atkinson is slim, but they will get the message out, and they may be able to do some interesting preference deals.”

In a similar vein, the Pirate Party Australia also supports R18+ for games, releasing a press statement earlier this month expressing “disgust” at Michael Atkinson’s stance on censorship. Matt Redmond, a Pirate Party spokesperson, said: “Every citizen in a democracy has the right to question the government, and in doing so has the right to protect himself from censure.”

For more on classification, check out GameSpot AU's Aussie Games Classification FAQ feature.

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Avatar image for AceBalls

Yeah. This Pirate Party sounds completely crap. Just makes things worse.

Avatar image for NECOthaHOUND

Ok, sex party is fine, good they support the R18+, can't they change their name to, I don't know, something like the adult entertainment party or something, that sex name thing is gonna work against them, a lot, I know it's 2010 but bigotry is still at large, The pirate party ? I give up on that

Avatar image for Xtos89


Avatar image for alexius2780

The Greens, the Australian Sex Party and the Pirate Party... no wonder why people are getting the wrong impression about games...

Avatar image for sooty1987

i didnt know there was a sex party!

Avatar image for CUDCUD

I doubt these party's supporting R18+ will make a difference to Atkinson. I mean come on the sex party's support may work against us, Atkinson will be like: "look who is supporting R18+ the sex party and pirate party." What exactly is the pirate party anyway?

Avatar image for Override3215

All this talk about parties makes me want a drink!

Avatar image for AceBalls

Why don't we all start a party too? The Australian Gamer Party? The Australian Entertainment Party (This way we cover all mediums), or something of that line? Policy is simple. Freedom of expression, responsibility and choice in all forms of art! That includes sex!

Avatar image for eddy96_1

this is great. its good that some of the more major parties are keeping a close eye on this debate. if we get the opposition and the greens on board as well Micheal Atkinson will be feeling a ton of pressure on his shoulders to change his stance. Im really looking forward to the next few months on this subject

Avatar image for Captain_Tom

Sex Party? I thought they closed that place down...

Avatar image for nezardm

privatization, everyone can do what ever they want and calling everything you want a discrimination to your existence is whats gonna kill Australia. At current state its like a pressure cooker, if we add on top super fast growing multiculturalism, the rude shocking OMG! faces of hearing a none english foreign languge , is gonna bring us to civil war sooner or later, too much too fast...

Avatar image for Bpants

Now all we need is the CEC :D In all seriousness, support from South Australian ALP factions would be vastly more important than of minor parties (other than the greens) in getting Atkinson to shift.

Avatar image for johnnyauau

This is getting so interesting. I wonder how many parties we have in Australia? Apart from One Nation with the former politician Pauline Hanson, I'm sure Australia politics have more parties than any other countries. So if anyone knows, please list for me the name of the parties that's involved in politics.

Avatar image for raptor1906

Wow theres a sex party in Australia? Shows how much of a democracy we are! I honestly would rather trust them over some strong christian believer...Thats just me and No, i dont despise religion

Avatar image for badiie05

i think i love Fiona, Atkinson is never going to allow R18+ his just stalling for more months grrr

Avatar image for Crunk_Dog

Hopefully Atkinson losoes his seat and the Gamers4Croydon party get it, maybe then we'll get the proper version of Left 4 Dead 2.

Avatar image for AceBalls

If Atkinson doesn't get removed, then we will never see an R18+ no matter what discussion papers say what and what political party says at all. I would love to know what the "Pirate Party" is too. My first impression is that it doesn't look good for us with a name like that. Sex Party is cool obviously but again, these parties will appear less than serious to a conservative christian voter. And there's LOTS of churches in south australia..

Avatar image for paperwarior17

They make the Green Party look legit. :3 But I'd vote for any of them.

Avatar image for Timbydude

...There's a political party called the "Sex Party"?

Avatar image for gameking5000

@balrogthane If you don't seem them on a ballot it's because they haven't got any candidates for the seat. They MAY have candidates in other regions but im not sure you can change your voting area and vote for another seat instead

Avatar image for balrogthane

I want to vote for the Ninja Party, but I can never find them on the ballot.

Avatar image for balrogthane

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Avatar image for Richardthe3rd

@ Chargrilled: My sentiments EXACTLY. Trying to overthrow a conservative seat and allying with radicals is like trying to douse a fire by throwing gasoline on it. If they want to get Atkinson's attention, or even more ambitiously remove him, they need to go for his constituency. It's great that G4C has support, but this isn't the kind of support they want to flourish to the press.

Avatar image for Bortson

Sex party and Pirate party? Damn I got super interested in politics lol. But seriously they make a good point, some old puritan wants to legislate his morals and exclude adults from making adult decisions. And these games trying to get R18+ are nothing more than run of the mill M rated FPS games. Blood, big guns, swearing. R rated movie material. Let an educated consumer make their own choices on what content to purchase. If the masses dont like the product nobody will buy it and natural market forces will cause it to go away. Why do you think you stop seeing ads for products that nobody wants, cause they go away. A movie bombs in the first week, no more ads and its gone soon after.

Avatar image for monkeyd_93

OMG theres a pirate party? oh i know whos getting my vote

Avatar image for WarhammerIIC

i want to vote for the pirate party!

Avatar image for Oblenator

@ Jortan Why yes, yes we do.

Avatar image for shani_boy101

There's a pirate party now?

Avatar image for stray2615

@ Chargrilled and Transparonia. Preferences always help, any votes that get skewed to G4C or even away from labour are good. Plus both the coalition and the Greens seem to want to look forward and make INFORMED descissions (unluike a certain SA AG). 1 man's personal opinion overuling what a country as a whole wants is absolutely stupid.

Avatar image for Chargrilled

somehow i dont think that support from parties named 'australian sex party' and 'pirate party' is going to carry much political weight... infact those names alone might be detrimental to the cause.

Avatar image for Transparanoia

I think having the support of the ASP in a place like Croydon wouldn't be as helpful as they would hope...

Avatar image for Deano

I could never take a group that calls themselves the pirate party seriously

Avatar image for wogboypaul

so in other and more shorter words.. what the hell are they saying!!?

Avatar image for deactivated-589386581aa8b

Yawn, I'm getting tired of the constant tidbits on this. Nothing noteworthy will happen until Atkinson is (hopefully) kicked out in the forthcoming election.

Avatar image for shivLasers

So by trying to move the country fowards, Atkinson wants to keep the R18+ rating down which will actually move us backwards. @cheater2000 He probably does see the error in his ways, but now he can't back down or he will look foolish.

Avatar image for cheater87

I hope Atkinson sees the fault of his ways and allows the R18 rating.