Australian R18+ legislation passes House of Reps

Australia is a significant step closer to an R18+ adult rating for video games, with legislation today passing through the House of Representatives.

The Hon Jason Clare

The Hon Jason Clare

Minster for Home Affairs, Minister for Justice (and occasional Player Attack guest blogger) Jason Clare has confirmed that the legislation has been passed – without amendment – and will now head to the Senate to be debated “in coming weeks”.

As we’ve covered previously, the legislation will reform the Australian classification system, bringing computer and video games into line with the existing categories used to classify films. Importantly, it will also shift Australia’s classification regime closer to the one used by countries such as the U.K., U.S., and New Zealand.

Today’s news is the latest in a lengthy saga – an R18+ category for video games has been discussed on and off for many years, with the Attorney-General’s Department releasing a discussion paper on the topic back in 2009. The public response was overwhelming – more than 58,000 submissions, with 98% in favour of an R18+ introduction.

Before you ask – Mr Clare explains that he is thinking of the children:

The R 18+ category will inform consumers, parents and retailers about which games are not suitable for minors to play, and will prevent minors from purchasing unsuitable material.

The reforms also mean that adults are able to choose what games they play within the bounds of the law.

All State and Territory Attorneys-General support the current bill, after agreeing to the reform at the July 2011 meeting of the Standing Council on Law and Justice.

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While the end may be in sight, it’s still a fair way off: The Bill must now face the Senate for debate. After it’s approved there, all States and Territories must pass their own complementary legislation, ensuring that R18+ computer and video games are regulated appropriately in each marketplace – this could potentially mean different laws for different states.

…if the Senate finds fault with the current Bill and rejects it, then the legislation must be redrafted, resubmitted to Parliament, and re-passed through the Lower House before it can proceed.

Following the passage of this legislation through the Senate, the States and Territories will pass their own complementary legislation to ensure that R 18+ computer games are appropriately regulated. If everything goes according to plan (with the Senate approving the Bill without amendments), the national classification scheme – including an R18+ rating for video games – will commence on January 1st, 2013.

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