In Adelaide today, the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General was again unable to reach a unanimous decision on the topic of whether or not Australia should have an R18+ rating for video games – however that’s not an outright no.
Eight of the nine ministers have agreed in principle to the introduction, while one – New South Wales Attorney-General Greg Smith – declined to vote, saying that he needed more information on the topic. (This was Smith’s first attendance at a SCAG meeting, and he represents a government that is only a few months old.)
Now, this is enough for Federal Home Affairs minister Brendan O’Connor to move forward with the topic, with the intention of striking an agreement with all concerned.
O’Connor himself is “very pleased” with today’s result, describing it as a “historic agreement”.
In a press conference, Smith spoke at length on the matter, and explained that he wanted to head back to his state’s cabinet to discuss the matter further. He intends to call an off-session cabinet meeting to do so, and is “keen” on making a decision soon, perhaps in the next few weeks.
Both Western Australia and Victoria have announced those states would like further amendments to the proposed R18+ guidelines, but have agreed to the idea in principle.
The Attorneys-General from South Australia, Tasmania, Queensland, Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory and the Federal all support the move. At least two of them – SA and ACT – have claimed they will “go it alone” regardless of the national outcome – so it will be interesting to see what moves they make in coming months.
…and – at this stage – a “matter of months” maybe all that it takes. The drafted classification guidelines are to be taken back to various committees (Rau says that the focus was primarily on what constituted an MA15+ game rather than the R18+ classification), and once everybody can agree, the new guidelines – including an R18+ rating – will be introduced, meaning games will start flowing through the system.
The next SCAG meeting will be in Hobart in November, but there are suggestions there may be one held in Perth in October. Brendan O’Connor has clearly stated he would like this topic dealt with before that meeting.
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