Australian Censorship Ministers speak out on R18+

Victorian and ACT attorneys general say they support R18+; others admit no position.

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It seems that South Australian attorney general Michael Atkinson remains the lone public voice opposing the introduction of an R18+ classification for games in Australia--at least for now. Last week, GameSpot AU brought you an exclusive article with Atkinson, who defended his views on opposing the introduction of the R18+ classification for video games in Australia. Atkinson said that he wasn't the only censorship minister to oppose the introduction of the R18+ classification, adding that he had been asked by other ministers to be the spokesperson on the matter.

But a survey of Australian federal, state, and territory attorneys general conducted by GameSpot AU has found no public support for the South Australian minister's position. Victoria and the ACT both say they support an R18+ classification, whereas NSW, Queensland, the Northern Territory, Tasmania, Western Australia, and the federal government all declined to state where they stand on the matter. For an R18+ rating for games to be introduced in Australia, all attorneys general must agree on its implementation.

Below are the responses from the attorneys general:

VICTORIA
Attorney General Rob Hulls

Hulls, a long-standing and outspoken supporter of the introduction of the R18+ classification for video games, had this to say: "I fully support there being consultation on this issue, but ultimately the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) is waiting for the South Australian Attorney to agree to consult on the matter."

ACT
Attorney General Simon Corbell

A spokesperson for Corbell said: "The ACT supports in principle the introduction of an R18+ classification for computer games. The Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) has decided to release a discussion paper on the issue and will be reviewing the public feedback once that paper is released."

NSW
Attorney General John Hatzistergos

A spokesperson for Hatzistergos said: "The NSW Attorney General has not indicated a position on the introduction of an R18+ classification for video games. However, he has indicated that he would support a public consultation process with regard to the issue."

TASMANIA
Attorney General Lara Giddings

A spokesperson from the Tasmanian government said: "The Tasmanian Government has not yet adopted a final position on the introduction of an R18+ classification for video games in Australia. A discussion paper is being finalised for the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) to inform community consultation. A decision on the preferred national approach will be made following this consultation. Tasmania has agreed to this approach."

QUEENSLAND
Attorney General Kerry Shine

Shine made this statement, indicating no position on the matter: "There are strong arguments for and against the introduction of an R18+ classification for computer games, with recent research into the impact of violence in video games divided. Establishing an R18+ classification for computer games was discussed by Censorship Ministers at the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General meeting (SCAG) on 6 November 2008. These discussions will continue and it is expected that a discussion paper will be finalised with a view to Australia-wide community consultation later this year. Censorship Ministers will again consider R18+ classification for computer games once community consultation is completed."

WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Attorney General Christian Porter

Porter made the following, somewhat unclear, statement: "As you would be aware, all States and Territories would have to agree to allow the introduction of R18+ games into the country. South Australia has quite vocally opposed the introduction of these games. Therefore any further comment would be hypothetical."

NORTHERN TERRITORY
Attorney General Marion Rose Scrymgour

A spokesperson for the Northern Territory government said the following, indicating no position: "A discussion paper is currently being circulated. For the NT, the issue is complicated by the changes made to the regulation of pornography in Indigenous communities as a result of the Intervention. Consultation is required in communities and with peak bodies representing Aboriginal interests. The Northern Territory Government will wait for the outcome of the consultation and discussion paper before formulating a position."

FEDERAL
Attorney General Robert McClelland

A spokesperson for McClelland said: "The Government is aware of the wide range of views in the community on the introduction of an R18+ classification for computer games. At this stage, Censorship Ministers are considering the content of a draft discussion paper and awaiting comments on the draft from South Australia. Any changes to classification categories, including introducing an R18+ classification for computer games, require unanimous support of the Commonwealth and all State and Territories."

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