READY: Will Changes in Government Affect R18+?

At the moment it's looking almost certain that Victoria is going to have a Liberal Government, which means that Rob Hulls, the Attorney-General most vocal in his support on an R18+ rating for Australia, will be replaced. Will this affect our chances of receiving an R18+ rating for Australia?

It's a tough call, and we can only speculate at this stage, but we can think of numerous outcomes from the current situation in Victoria.

As we know from Michael Atkinson's tenure as the South Australian Attorney-General, it only takes one person to oppose the introduction of an R18+ rating, but with Rob Hulls leaving, the affiliations of the other Attorneys-General are unknown. Michael Atkinson was all too happy to be the "lightening rod" [sic]for the ire of those in support of R18+, but the reality is that that other Attorneys-General could have similar views.

It's also possible that other AGs support an R18+ rating, but sad truth is that most probably don't care and have very little personal feelings on the matter.

With Michael Atkinson's crusade now relegated to history, the decision will most likely be a political one, and in that regard the addition of one more Liberal AG may favour our chances. Previously all but one state (WA) had a Labor Premier - one more Liberal AG means that now any decision made doesn't necessarily have to be a blanket 'Labor' stance on the issue - it can be a bi-partisan decision made on the basis of common sense.

There's also the possibility, however, that the hullaballoo of Victoria's hung government may spill over to the SCAG meeting, resulting in the decision being postponed again, possibly until after March. By that time it's looking likely that we'll have another Liberal State government in NSW and, as a result, another new Attorney-General.

What then? Well, again, we can only speculate. Personally we want this whole thing decided upon by December and with the Attorneys-General keeping quiet on the issue, we need to maintain our efforts to make the R18+ issue worthy of their attention. Our main worry is that the R18+ debate will be brushed aside during the SCAG meeting or, worse, not discussed at all.

But we have control over that. If we make enough noise then the R18+ issue will become a priority. You can head here for details on how to write directly to your local Attorney-General, and here for help in making sure your letter gets notice.

The SCAG meeting takes place December 10 - that's 11 days away. It's now or never folks!


    Spelling error: Labor doesn't have a 'u' when referring to the Australian political party.

      lol, I feel there is some sly political message in that statement.

        "There's no 'you' in Labor"

        Could be on to a winner. Quick! Do a Nintendo and copyright it!

    The issue here isn't so much the sway of the arguments, it is, like you say, the personal pursuasions of the state representatives.

    Until we can be assured of reasonable, mature representatives, there will always exist the risk that it gets turned away on the opinion of one person.

    What kind of democracy doesn't let the people decide? I'm certain that, once informed, the Australian people would vote in favour of an R18+ rating if given the opportunity.

    This issue is a sad reflection on the political state of Australia...

      In this case Tad, it's unfortunate, but overall, representative democracy is a pretty good system. You wouldn't want to be voting on every decision our government makes about anything ever. We'd all be parliamentarians in that case, and unable to do much other work. Instead we vote once every couple years to select people we think will make good decisions for us.

      Sometimes it seems like we are an awfully long way from our government, but really this is exactly how it is meant to work. I know I don't want to vote on stuff every single day, about which I know nothing and care little more.

    The fact that one mans personal views on this issue has held us up for so long, is really spitting in the face of democracy.

    The anti R18 people are always say" What about the children", well do you want to have impressionable 15 year olds (and younger) being able to purchase video games that are rated R in North America and Europe?

    The handling of the R18 for games issue has been so appalling from the start it has only served to highlight how in the AG’s either cannot or are unwilling perform the role tasked to them.

    After being on the agenda for 5 years, if it’s not resolved now, I'd say its time for the AG’s to stick their hand up and say “hey I am too busy, unmotivated, scared or stupid to make this decision” and then give the responsibility to someone who is capable and interested.

    Abolish state governments entirely.

    It only exists to justify its own existance.

    Right now I'd be more concerned with the AG's meeting being called off as there might not be a Victoria AG by then! Look at how long it too for the federal government to finally form after the election.

    I can't help but think what other issues are currently being fought that also get pushed back time and time again? Seems stupid that for a bunch of guys who have so much weight in democracy that they meet so infrequently and have have issues pushed back time and time again

    I always found Atkinson's "lightening rod" comment about the other Attorneys-General supporting his position rather disingenuous.

    If the AGs *do* have a position on the issue then as elected representatives, they have a responsibility to inform the electors (e.g. it would be irresponsible for them to oppose the R18 issue and not make that position public).

    Given Atkinson's numerous other comments (such as the post script on the form letter he sent out to everyone), I'd be disinclined to believe it, however.

    (Moderately interesting aside: the post script in question, which thanked the Liberal Party of SA for their support on the issue, was notably absent when I finally received a hard copy. Maybe it's my name...)

      *is possibly one of the only people here who follows SA politics closely enough to get the name thing*

      Therefore: zing!

    John Brumby has literally just made his concession speech and it looks almost certain that the Coalition will get the 45 seats needed to form government, which means the prospects of a hung parliament aren't very likely.

    I guess that's somewhat of a relief, in that we'll have a working government of some form in Victoria by December 10 (the date of the next SCAG meeting) - what's not yet clear is what Robert Clark's stance on the issue is. I think you're right, and he might not even care very much at all. It remains to be seen whether the R-18+ issue will be compromised by religious elements of the party or some kind of national agenda from the Coalition.

    Out of interest, anyone (Mark?) know what WA's Attorney-General's stance on R18 is? Was Atkinson the only one to come out against it?

    The fact Victoria is probably getting a Liberal Government has made me ashamed to be Victorian.

      I, as a fairly left-ish kind of person, don't think you'd say that in NSW. Yeah, Labor are generally the way to go... but have you SEEN our Labor people?

        Yeh, I'm a leftie as well but I honestly can't see the current NSW Labor government doing any better in the future. It's in complete disarray. I can't see the Libs doin any better either though so *shrugs*.

        I was always under the impression Victoria was happy with their Labor government, don't often hear of horrible things happening every second week. Though, I guess that's cuz I'm arrogant enough not to bother listening in on interstate politics.

        As a general rule, you can assume a right wing AG will be more inclined to reject a left wing motion when they don't need to worry about votes.

      And the fact that Australia is currently being governed by the Labor Party has continually made me be ashamed to call myself an Aussie.

      Just sayin'

    I don't care. I care more about them abolishing this stupid unanimous state AG decision on national issues thing once and for all!

    stupidest thing I have ever seen. "oh, if only we had some sort of... national government to decide these issues..."

    The only statement I found from Christian Porter (WA's AG) was pretty ambiguous.

    "As you would be aware, all States and Territories would have to agree to allow the introduction of R18+ games into the country. South Australia has quite vocally opposed the introduction of these games. Therefore any further comment would be hypothetical."

    Also, the thought that the Liberals would be more favourable towards the R18 rating is extremely naive. Michael Atkinson was pretty much the only one who strongly disagreed, was a social conservative after all.

    I'd like to know Mark's reasoning as to thinking that the loss of pro R18 representative, could be a positive - it seems so ludacris.

      I don't necessarily think it's a positive, but since almost all of the AGs were Labour reps, there may have been an attempt to cater to conservative voters by going against an R18+ rating, as a way to play party politics. If there are a more Libs there may be a chance that common sense prevails, since neither party really has to take responsibility for the decision.

      Thats such a politicians answer.
      The plain English translation is "Ol Mickey said what he thought and hes not an AG anymore so I'm keeping me mouth shut"

      I agree that assigning a blanket opinion to a political party is naive.

      There are various factions within the state and Federal Liberal parties (and Labor parties, for that matter) - in Victoria, the Liberal party, and Ted Baillieu in particular, is relatively more 'liberal' than, say, the current Federal party. That doesn't mean that they'll necessarily support R18+, and as you say there are elements of social conservatism in the Liberal party (Atkinson et al) - the fact that we know literally nothing about Robert Clark or Ted Baillieu's position on R18+ means that all we can do is guess at best.

      I also agree with Mark that a more mixed group of Attorneys-General might promote bipartisanship; a sharing around of the eventual decision (and more debate about the issue) isn't going to hurt anybody - unless Clark turns out to be anti-R18+, which I doubt.

        An update: I just found the website of Robert Clark MP, the new AG, and among his interests he lists: "the use of information technology to overcome economic, political and other information barriers."

        In his media section there is an article relating to classification laws:

        The article only refers to material that is refused classification (RC), i.e. that is violent or degrading - he says:

        "There is every good ground to think that the sort of material that I am referring to simply exacerbates and adds to those social problems [violence against women and children], and that indeed is one of the very compelling reasons why as a community we have determined to have laws that ban those sorts of materials."

        Keeping in mind that he is talking about extreme material here (beyond R18), but the language is rather similar to the sorts of arguments we've seen advanced for refusing the R18+ classification for video games.

    Im afraid people that we may never see the R18+ classification, there is too much shit that is stopping from being implemented, Whenever the time comes for the SCAG meeting something comes up and the issue get put to the back, and lastly that the stars have to align to make all the AG's to agree unanamiously.

    For more daily news (from Kotaku and others), videos (TV, Internet, education on controversial games), pics and more on R18+, everyone's welcome to come and see:

    "R18 Games Australia"

    (Not SPAM, merely an invite. Free to ignore it.)

    "...resulting in the decision being postponed again, possibly until after March."

    Way to jinx it.

    I called the then Shadow Attorney General office for some information on his stance.

    Admittedly I left it a little late the tuesday before the election, and left a message with a staffer with all my contact details.

    I still havent heard back.

    Rob Hulls has been far from the most vocal supporter of the introduction of the R18+ rating. He USED to be, however, he took away his public backing for it when he couldn't decide what would suit him better electorally.

    The only AG who has always supported the introduction has been the ACT's Simon Corbell.

    In any event, with a new AG in Victoria, all bets are off. I'm heading to a Liberal Party event this evening and will try and get a comment.

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