With the next meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General just 41 days away, no one can obtain confirmation that the issue will even be discussed. But R18+ advocate Roland Kulen believes there are ways we can put pressure on the committee.
Everyone Plays, a PALGN initiative supported by GAME, sent a release yesterday with concerns that SCAG meeting agendas are not available to the public.
"Neither the gaming industry nor the media have been able to ascertain confirmation that any preliminary results from the public's submission to the R18+ PC and video games discussion paper will be presented to State Government Attorneys-General at the next SCAG meeting in late April." said Rob Lukic, Managing Director at GAME.
While the SCAG agenda for their April 29th meeting is hidden, they are required to provide a communique afterwards listing the items discussed. But Roland Kulen, spearhead of the Everyone Plays campaign, believes the secrecy opens the possibility of the matter being delayed inevitably.
"The agenda of this SCAG meeting is kept in confidence by the AG department. So we just don't know what's on the agenda, nor will we know any results from the submissions to the discussion paper," says Kulen.
David Doe, of the Gamers4Croydon party, wouldn't be surprised:
"With the sheer overwhelming weight in numbers in the discussion paper, they might still even be processing them all when the next meeting rolls around. There was a massive amount of submissions. But they'll definitely get a good idea of the community sentiment.
According to the Interactive Australia 2009 study from Bond University, 91% of Australian adults are in favour of the proposed rating.
Despite the rating not being the sexiest topic for politicians to talk about, it has received a generous amount of media attention. And with resources already spent on the discussion paper, how likely is it that the SCAG might snub the issue altogether?
"Unlikely," says Kulen, "but really the discussion is 'to what degree.' It's difficult to determine from the communique how seriously the issue is taken. It's very brief, and it won't let us know what level of research the AGs were provided with.
"I've seen it before, where discussion papers have been dragged out for long periods of time. We're also in an election time, two states and one federal. The last thing the pollies want to do is present a definitive view on something like this, which could anger more people than it pleases."
To that end, Everyone Plays has been working together with GAME on a petition that has so far gathered 35,363 signatures in two and a half weeks, and is expected to break 40,000 before the end of the third week. Existing signatures were sent to South Australia Attorney-General Michael Atkinson's office today, as well as that of Vick Chapman, Shadow Attorney-General, to encourage the committee to take the matter seriously.
"At the end of the day, I have two children, 16 and 10. I will not send them to see an R18+ movie, but an MA15+ movie, sure, I feel comfortable with that. But with games, I'm only left one rating, so there's real discomfort there."
The Everyone Plays petition can be signed in all GAME stores.