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South Australia planning to restrict MA15+ games to 18-year-olds

State plans to restrict sales of MA15+ games to adults only; MA15+ and R18+ to exist side by side.


South Australia is moving ahead with plans to introduce a law that would ban anyone under the age of 18 from purchasing an MA15+-rated game.

A spokesperson for South Australian Attorney-General John Rau told GameSpot AU that this move is "a more practical measure" than Rau's previously announced intention of removing the MA15+ category altogether.

"Complementary South Australian legislation [on R18+ for games] is likely to be introduced in State Parliament in May," Rau told GameSpot AU.

South Australian Attorney-General John Rau.
South Australian Attorney-General John Rau.

"However, my long-stated position has been to protect children by creating a clearer distinction between games that may be suitable for children and those that are suitable only for adults."

"Therefore, my intention is that the South Australian legislation will prevent the sale of MA15+ games to minors. This move will give parents greater certainty about the appropriateness of games for their children."

South Australia's newly proposed legislation is recommending that sales of MA15+ games in the state be restricted to those over the age of 18. For example, under the proposed law, anyone under the age of 18 in South Australia would not be legally allowed to purchase MA15+-rated games such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 or Skyrim.

Rau's office confirmed that the new law, if introduced, would be policed at a retail level. More details on how the legislation will actually work will be announced "in due course."

In April last year, Rau announced his intention to "phase out" the MA15+ in favour of R18+, saying the state would only embrace the new adult category with the elimination of the former.

"If there is a national opportunity to embrace R18+, South Australia will do it with the quid pro quo that MA15+ is eliminated as a classification and all games that are now rated MA15+ will be made R18+," Rau told GameSpot AU in 2011.

"We do this [different legislation in different states] with film now--the ACT and NT have different legislation when it comes to X-rated films compared to the rest of the country. This already exists and the sky hasn't fallen in. I don't think that it will be a problem if South Australia has a slightly different regime in respect to games than the rest of the nation."

However, while Rau's plans have changed, his reasons for wanting to restrict the MA15+ classification for video games in South Australia have remained the same--to create a clearer gap between content made for children and content made for adults.

"At the moment, there is an unbroken continuum from G to PG to M to MA15+, which includes some pretty violent games," Rau said last April. "What we want to do is make sure there is a clear gap between material for adult and material for children and empower responsible parents by making sure game classifications are helpful. No adult would be any worse off [with the abolition of MA15+ for games]; in fact, adults would be better off because there would be more games available in the R18+ category."

Rau's office confirmed it wants the proposed legislation to head to parliament as early as next month; for this to happen, the legislation must first be approved by the South Australian cabinet.

GameSpot AU will continue to update the story.

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