R18: Federal government not taking the states’ sh*t any more

As I’ve said before, just because the present Classification Scheme gives every state attorney-general a veto over any change to classification rules, doesn’t mean that the agreement on which the scheme is based can’t be changed. It’s not in the Constitution that states have to have the same rating system; it’s better if possible, and that would be everyone’s preference, but where it’s being made ridiculous by a lone crank each time, it’s just not worth the cost.

Fortunately, the federal government appears to have come to the same conclusion:

The Federal Government has given state and territory attorneys-general until July to decide whether to introduce an R18+ classification for video games.

Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor says after a decade of debate, it is crunch time.

“We’re becoming the laughing stock of the developed world, where we’re the only country that doesn’t have an R18 classification level for video games.

“I foreshadow that if there is not a consensus around this issue, the Commonwealth will certainly be considering other options because we cannot continue to have an outdated classification system that’s actually, in my view, causing harm to young people.”

The Federal Government says reforming the system will help protect children, inform parents and give adult gamers more choice.

“I’m not going to let this matter end because it’s too important to allow one or two jurisdictions to stop the majority of jurisdictions in this country moving on an important reform,” Mr O’Connor said.

Now THAT is how to cut through the bull. Call them on it. Don’t let them hide behind a secretive little meeting where nobody has to take responsibility publicly for their vote. It has never made sense that some MP in the South Australian state parliament can tell Victorian adults what they can watch. No wonder Australians have such contempt for the rating system as presently designed.

But a rating system is important. People should have a guide as to what kind of content they’re about to consume – and what kind of content they’re going to let their kids consume. We need a rating system the country can respect.

Let’s hope the federal government gets it done before it expends all its political capital on another issue.

UPDATE: Now the Tasmanian AG has come out and confirmed he’ll be supporting such a rating. What’s the position of the other AG’s going to be?

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8 responses to “R18: Federal government not taking the states’ sh*t any more

  1. jordanrastrick

    I personally like the idea of:

    1) Adding an R18+ rating (no brainer)
    2) Making classification a Federal issue. Screw the states.
    3) Making the system self-administered. Let publishers rate their own material, and the government classifiers only step in and impose changes (or in egrarious cases fines etc) if there are a sufficient number of complaints to trigger a review. That way they won’t be drowning in the explosion of new content we’re seeing in the digital era.

  2. narcoticmusing

    Jordan – there are some issues where the States play a critical role, particularly service provision. However, in matters where we have import/export scenarios and international corporations interacting with consumers, I agree that we should defer it to the feds, much like corporations law and customs law are.

  3. This was never about state rights. It was always about using the states as a fig leaf so the feds could avoid making a difficult decision. Seems now that Fundies First and similar aren’t holding the balance of power, Labor have found their mojo on at least one thing. More importantly, a very successful grassroots campaign by gamers. Well done.

  4. Finally, some common sense from federal politicians on this issue. Let’s get on with it. This is a no-brainer and there are bigger things to worry about.

  5. A fig leaf, shermozle? Try “bay leaf”.

    To tackle region coding however…

  6. narcoticmusing

    The disconnect in the policy mindsets between piracy and prohibition is really quite odd. In a global economy, all having no rating or delaying/restricting the release of something for an arguably exploitative profit does is either increase imports or increase piracy. Currently, it is easier (regardless of cost) to pirate as there aren’t alternatives or the alternatives (such as Steam which I love) still puts on an exploitative price with no rationale (including when our dollar improves the price is still higher).

  7. Yeah, it’s about time our legislators tackled region-coding and region-pricing, too.

  8. I’m generally a federalist, I don’t believe that the Commonwealth should have all power and I think States are a great idea. But this one is obviously a trade and international and interstate relations matter, so classification (which is not censorship, Jeremy) ought to be decided in Canberra (which it is, bureaucratically, by the ACB and ACRB).

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