The two day meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General has endorsed the idea of an R18+ classification for video games. The in principle decision was backed by all states and territories, with the exception of NSW Attorney-General, Greg Smith, who abstained.
The summary of decisions released following the meeting states that the attorneys-general agreed to take revised classification guidelines for computer games to their cabinets and stated it was "desirable" for the classification of current games to be reviewed in light of the new guidelines.
With the exception of Smith, the attorneys-general also agreed to commence drafting amendments for the introduction of an R18+ classification and backed the introduction by the Commonwealth of amendments to the National Classification Code
“This is a big step forward in the long running debate on classification of computer games for adults,” federal Minister for Home Affairs and Justice, Brendan O’Connor, said in a statement. “The introduction of an R18+ classification for computer games will provide better advice to parents and help prevent children and teenagers from accessing unsuitable material,” he said.
In March O’Connor warned that Australia was “becoming the laughing stock of the developed world” because of its lack of an adult rating for games.
CEO of the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association, Ron Curry, greeted the decision as "big step towards a robust ratings system that best equips parents to manage their children’s access to appropriate content, as well as enables adults the ability to play games of their choice within the confines of the law".
Commenting on Smith's abstention, Curry said that is was "entirely reasonable that each Minister should have taken the necessary time to fully understand the underlying issues … we look forward to entering into a dialogue with NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith.”
In May, the Federal Government released new draft guidelines for the classification of computer games. The guidelines covered the depiction drugs, violence, offensive language and sexuality in games, including the grounds under which games would be refused classification.