Atkinson Reaches New Low, Freezes R18+ Discussion Paper

No, I won’t be running a picture of his goofy grin and awful suspenders on this one…

We all knew South Australia’s Michael Atkinson wouldn’t be swayed by mere facts and idle research papers. But even I was shocked by his latest stunt. According to Jason Hill over at the Age/SMH Screenplay blog, Atkinson has now withdrawn his support for a discussion paper and public consultation on the subject of an R18+ rating for video games.

We’ve all been wondering when this public consultation was going to begin, with the next SCAG meeting just weeks away. But Atkinson’s withdrawal of support effectively places an indefinite ban on the subject even being discussed. As Hill’s piece points out, this is effectively censorship of the debate over censorship.

But was he ever likely to be convinced to shift his position anyway? Perhaps this is just the extreme move the industry needs? Pressure can and must now shift to broader government pressure on Atkinson’s abuse of the system. That one man can stand against the will of 91% of the country on a petty crusade shows that the letter of these laws do not reflect their intent. The unanimous requirement for change was meant to protect a forced change by a majority of governments with a shared political standpoint. This now shows how the entire system can be held to ransom by a fringe factor.

Censoring the Censorship Debate [Screenplay]


  • It’s sad how someone who is supposed to serve the people is now doing the exact opposite just because he’s stubborn and doesn’t want to concede he’s on the losing side. Swallow your pride you damn fool. Also, why hasn’t this guy been sacked already?

  • Okay, what the fuck.
    Up until this point I’ve been in the mindset that Atkinson has in his own overcautious way been happy enough to work within the system and allow progress to eventually happen.
    Yes he’s the reason we don’t have an R18 rating already, and yes he quotes his flawed, frankly stupid believes as gospel – but I’ve always had the impression that once it got to looking at accurate research, taking public interest into account and finally the vote, he’d be reasonable. I guess I was naive for thinking that.
    It’s just a joke that it’s capable for one man to do this.
    As far as I’m concerned if he doesn’t want to come to the party, don’t invite him – let the other AG’s make the decisions without him.

  • It’s good to read in that committee Hansard that Sen. Barnett seems to grasp the public desire and the all-but-SA support for an R18+ rating.

    It seems that the agreement under which the state classification powers have been brought together federally is in need of an overhaul. Whilst it’s not ideal, I for one have no problem with different states/territories having different classification laws. Let SA deal with its own problem while the rest of us move forward.

  • Dont lump South Australians in with him, we all hate the throwback bastard as well. Yes Id love the State system to be overhauled, its not fair either that we get the dregs of the Murray River because the other states are greedy and narrow minded. Eliminate all the state parliaments!

  • It’s really frustrating. I send Atkinson a letter about every second week pleading with him to take research, public opinion and rationality into account in his decisions. It’s not a nice feeling that my local MP (yes I live in Croydon) will not listen to me.
    Something else needs to be done. I hope the senate notices the problem and can do something about it.
    Needless to say, when the next state election comes up, I will go door to door in Atkinson’s electorate campaigning for the other guy.

  • @Rod

    Allowing Different classification areas (ie, the states to do their own thing) may mean even more games being denied release in Australia, as market segmentation would make us 7 smaller markets, rather then one large one.

    We already get mostly screwed on price, released dates and region locking. Can’t someone just organize a non-violent, flash mob of DS (or PSP) players outside this guys office?

  • Utterly incomprehensible violation of democracy. This move seems to say that EB Games and their ilk haven’t tried to apply any political pressure Atkinson to get things moving along towards a reasonably modern and sensible classification system. Surprising, to say the least.

    Between refusing R18+ classification for video games and the prospect of ISP-level filtering, Australia looks to be on the the brink of a digital dark age. Once the Euro recovers, I might move to Europe, a place where conservatism and the idea of the ‘nanny state’ doesn’t rule supreme.

  • Only less than 3% support / want the anti porn firewall the government appears to be insisting to put in place … if less than 3% don’t deter that, why would 91% deter this?

  • Rod, I don’t think having separate classification laws for each state would work. What’s then stopping people from buying things interstate. The government isn’t going to go for something like that, it’s too hard to police.

    The default solution of “fuck the rest of Australia, we’re the eastern states man” might work for water management, but not in this case unfortunately.

  • @Rod

    “Let SA deal with its own problem while the rest of us move forward.”

    I bet your opinion on the matter would be different if you lived in SA…

  • Sounds good but if this were the case it would be an extra and difficult production cost for games houses.

    I work in TV on a weekly show and it’s very difficult (but necessary) to create different versions for different states.

    I’d hate to be part of a gaming company that had to create, like: North America, Australia, Australia – SA, Europe, SE Asia etc. versions of a game.

  • This is a clear son that he had bested with this research.

    This man is suppose to serve the people and do whats best for teh country. Not fuel his personal beliefs

    This man dosent give a damn bout the Australian people and he cant deny that, much like the research

  • This is kind of on topic because our lack of an R rating meant Fallout 3 was modified throughout the world – but the Fallout 3 street date has been broken basically everywhere – go and get it people!

  • I think this guy would have absolutely no problem with becoming Australia’s first dictator/emperor/high chancellor. Why, that way the entire country would be forced to comply with his “this is what’s best for the people, they don’t know what they need” policies. Games would be banned altogether and all children would be put into government care as soon as they’re born, since it’s clear he believes parents are morons that can’t take care of their own children.

  • I’ve emailed my state senators and members to draw their attention to this guy and to vote to support the creation of a new R18+ rating. I encourage you to do the same.

    You can find your local member here:
    You can find your state senators here:

    While you’re at it, voice your opposition to the planned internet censoring/filtering and encourage your local members and senators to do the same

  • @fdr
    “Rod, I don’t think having separate classification laws for each state would work. What’s then stopping people from buying things interstate. The government isn’t going to go for something like that, it’s too hard to police.”

    Well they’ve already done this with Underbelly, when it was released on DVD they couldn’t sell it in Victoria, and couldn’t sell it online.

    That kind of worked (ya right!), but no reason they couldn’t do it again.

  • How is it that one man can stop the progress of an entire country, even in the face of irrefutable evidence? Isn’t majority rules how the rest of this country is run? Why do attorney generals have this kind of power!?

  • In the photo with the s**t-eating grin and the awful suspenders they showed in The Age, is that bible scripture written on his suspenders? Seriously?

  • Telstra monopoly, Great Firewall, now this? Looks like we’re gonna start calling each other ‘comrades’ instead of mates soon enough. Hu Jintao’s grin must be reaching his ears while he toasts a glass of journalist blood with Kevin Rudd

  • Heres a suggestion, why not agree to a one year trial period? We make R rated games legal for one whole year and after 365 days there is physical proof that R rated games pose a serious threat to Australia then they get banned again

  • I think that this is is a bit ridiculous, Atkinson is just behind the times. It was my thinking that as Australian adults we have the right not to be censored, if he agrees with the principle of non-censorship then why is he doing this. I think that the SCAG should have qualified majority rather than unanimous voting to pass things like this.

  • I was afraid of something like this happening from him.

    Ever since I saw him in a recent news report about SA banning those marijuana growing lights, I knew there was something wrong about him when he refered to the consequences of someone being caught with one of these light as ‘you’re nicked’. This affirms that Atkinson is a true believer in totalirianism, and takes a pretty simplistic approach to the issues. ‘If you ban the means, it dosen’t exist’.
    Atkinson needs to be pushed into the media and questioned on not only this but a lot of other issues he supports too.

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