'Silent majority' views needed on Aussie R18+: Minister

Strength of argument and not just weight of numbers need to be considered before introduction of adult ratings for games, federal government says.

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When the Australian federal government conducted a public consultation into the R18+ for games issue late last year, the community response showed overwhelming support for the introduction of the adult classification. Of the 59,678 public submissions received in total, the Home Affairs department found 58,589 (98.2 percent) were in favour of introducing an R18+, with only 1,089 (1.2 percent) against it.

However, despite receiving such a big number of responses to a public consultation, the federal government still believes more community views are needed before it can think about introducing an R18+ classification for video games in Australia.

Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor thinks more community views need to be sought before R18+ for games can be introduced.
Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor thinks more community views need to be sought before R18+ for games can be introduced.

Federal Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor told GameSpot AU that despite the overwhelmingly positive response in support of R18+ for games during the last consultation, the views of the "silent majority" also need to be canvassed.

"[R18+ for games] 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 the nation's classification system," O'Connor told GameSpot AU.

"The strength of arguments on both sides must be considered. What is needed is the right decision, not a rushed decision. At its meeting on May 7, 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 for games. This 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."

The good news, however, is that R18+ has been confirmed as being on the agenda at the next Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) meeting, which takes place in Canberra on December 10.

Stay tuned to GameSpot AU for more news from the November SCAG meeting. For more on video game classification in Australia, check out GameSpot AU's Aussie Games Classification FAQ feature.

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