R18+: Australian Attorneys-General to go it alone

Australia is just a day away from finding out whether or not an R18+ adult rating for video games is likely in the near future, and the politicians involved aren’t making things easy for us.

Both the South Australian Attorney-General John Rau and his ACT counterpart Simon Corbell have said they will “go it alone” on the topic, but that they will do it in very different ways.

John Rau

SA Attorney-General,
John Rau

Back in April of this year, Rau announced that his state would introduce an R18+ rating, at the expense of MA15+, something he reiterated earlier this week. To do this, the state and territory attorneys-general must unanimously agree to introduce R18+ as a national rating.

According to Rau, the move will give South Australian parents a “clearer choice” between games that are suitable for adults, and those that are made for children.

I’m working on the basis that while the federal government sets the rules, it’s up the each individual state to police them. I cannot imagine it will be a problem for South Australia to fold the MA15+ rating into the R18+ rating, once Australia has one.

This sort of law does exist already – the Australian Commonwealth permits X-rated films to be classified, but they are not legally able to be sold outside of the ACT and Northern Territory. Each individual state and territory has decided how it would like to handle the adult material.

Rau’s proposing a similar treatment for video games – but admits to [surl=http://au.gamespot.com/news/6324516/sa-reiterates-r18-support-confirms-plans-to-abandon-ma15?sid=6324516]GameSpot AU[/surl] that he’s not sure quite how to go about this legally yet.

Right now what I am envisaging is a system where South Australia still receives games that have been rated MA15+, but we simply put an R18+ sticker on top of the MA15+ sticker before the games are sold. That way parents can have a clear idea of which content is for adults.

[img_big]center,3762,2011-03-24/mk9_360_liukang_uppercutpunch_kano_pit_i_web.jpg,Mortal Kombat – currently Refused Classification (effectively banned) in Australia[/img_big]

Meanwhile, ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell is preparing to branch out on his own, exploring ways to introduce an R18+ rating in that Territory alone.

He believes it makes sense:

The rating will bring computer games into line with film and literature in Australia and will give guidance to parents and young people about the suitability or otherwise of the material.

ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell

ACT Attorney-General,
Simon Corbell

Corbell also feels the black market in Australia will be curbed by the move – and that even if a national push fails, he’ll try to introduce one specifically for the ACT. He tells the [surl=http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-07-21/corbell-backs-r-rated-games/2804014]Australian Broadcasting Corporation[/surl] that this is not a “desirable” or “sensible” outcome, but it may be a necessary step.

The Standing Committee of Attorneys-General meets in Adelaide tomorrow, to discuss the introduction of the new classification. Currently, it’s believed that six ministers support the move, two are undecided and one is planning on not voting.

playerattack will be on location to bring you all of the news as it happens.

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