The Federal Government has upped the pressure on holdout WA Attorney-General, Christian Porter, to support changes to classification laws to allow the introduction of an R18+ rating for games.
Minister for Home Affairs and Justice, Brendan O’Connor, has released a comparison of Australian and international games’ ratings, which support the government's argument that Australian minors are being exposed to video game content which would otherwise be restricted to adults.
The comparison found that more than two-thirds of Australians rated MA15+ is restricted to adults only in comparative countries.
Some nine MA15+ game titles were given a 17+ or 18+ classification in all other countries while 15 MA15+ titles were given a 17+ or 18+ classification in the majority of other countries.
Blockbuster shooting title Call of Duty: Black Ops, which carries an MA15+ rating in Australia, is classified as an 18+ title in the UK and Europe. Crime title Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is similarly rated.
“Right now there are dozens of games that are classified as MA15+ in Australia, but in other countries these gaming titles are restricted to adults only,” O’Connor said in a statement following the release of the comparison.
According to O’Connor, the introduction of an R18+ rating in Australia would provide a means for parents to remove unsuitable material from children and teenagers.
“The Classification Board has been doing its job professionally and appropriately, applying the rules as they stand when making decisions on computer game ratings,” O’Connor said.
“An R18+ rating for computer games and associated changes to the MA15+ category would reduce minors’ exposure to images of gratuitous sex, violence or other adult themes.”
O'Connor needs to secure unanimous support from the states if the change in classification laws is to go through.
The growing pressure on Porter comes as the nation's state attorneys-generals meet today for the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG).
However, Porter is understood to as yet determine the WA government's official position on the issue despitecoming under pressure from a group of 12 Liberal and National government MPs, including Water Minister Graham Jacobs, who are against any move for an R18+ rating.
The release of the government's comparison follows the release of the public submissions on the government’s R18+ classification discussion paper, which overwhelming supported a change to classification laws to allow for the sale of R18+ video and computer games.
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