• SA to Introduce R18+ Rating Regardless of AG Decision: ACT to Follow

    Following on from news earlier today that South Australian Attorney-General John Rau is seeking to abolish the MA15+ rating for video games, it seems that Rau is set on an R18+ rating being introduced and will take matters into his own hands if the other Attorneys-General don't take action.

    According to GameSpot, Rau has stated that South Australian cabinet has endorsed his proposal for an independent R18+ rating for SA should the Attorneys-General fail to reach a unanimous decision in July, also endorsing his proposal for a simultaneous phasing out of the MA15+ category. Rau strongly believes that the federal government has the capacity to introduce an R18+ rating, at a federal level, without unanimous agreement. It would then be upon the states and territories to independently decide whether or not to introduce the rating. Regardless of whether such unanimous decision is passed at the meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG), SA will introduce the rating "if the federal government first passes the adult rating at a national level", according to Rau:

    "The next step [for me] will depend on what happens in SCAG in July. Certainly, in order to implement R18+ for games here in South Australia, there will need to be some regulation or possible statutory amendments made, but I don't think it will be hard to do this. We just have to wait until the federal position becomes clear."

    Rau states while he hasn't given up hope on a unanimous agreement being reached at the next SCAG meeting he will see that the classification changes are introduced one way or another:

    "Of course, it would be ideal to have a uniform national scheme. That's why we need to wait now to see how the federal arrangements will shake out. 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+. This is what I want to happen in South Australia... 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."

    Rau cites the availability of X-rated films in the ACT and NT as an example of different legislation for different states.

    Joining Rau, ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell has voiced his support of independent classification for the ACT should the SCAG decision fail.

    "I asked my department for advice for options to pursue this course about a month ago, so obviously John Rau and I have been thinking along similar lines insofar that if uniform agreement on this [issue] cannot be reached, then it would appear that it would be left open to states and territories to pursue their own arrangements... Simply accepting that there wouldn't be R18+ would be a ludicrous situation. [If this doesn't happen] we would have to consider going it alone and legislating for R18+. We haven't decided on this yet, however, but I have asked my department to prepare options for me because it is inevitable that we would have to consider this approach if there is no national agreement."

    Unlike Rau, Corbell has yet to run the proposal by ACT Cabinet, but feels that it would be unlikely they'd disapprove:

    "I'd have to get the ACT Cabinet to agree to it, but my Cabinet has already indicated its support for R18+ nationally, so I doubt they'd be opposed to having it solely in the ACT. What's unclear at this stage is if we need legislation or regulation to do this--I'm thinking whether this can be just achieved by a change to regulation, which a minister can do, rather than a change to the law"

    Corbell is less optimistic about the potential of unanimous agreement, stating that "it's not looking hopeful at this stage". Corbell also clarified that Rau's proposition of an abolition of the MA15+ classification for video games was another question all together and that the ACT "wouldn't necessarily follow South Australia down that path".