Victorian Attorney-General: New R18+ Guidelines Require "Public Debate", Concerned About "Frequent And Gratuitous Violence"

Despite the fact that the public have been consulted extensively, Victorian Attorney-General Robert Clark has claimed that the new guidelines currently being prepared for a possible R18+ rating require "careful scrutiny and public debate" before any decision is made. And, in a statement that sends alarm bells ringing, he stated he was worried about the possibility of increasingly violent video games being made available in the country.

"The Coalition government is very concerned that the draft guidelines currently being proposed by the Commonwealth would legalise games with high levels of graphic, frequent and gratuitous violence, including violence against civilians and police,’’ Clark stated, speaking to Fairfax.

"The Victorian government will decide our position based on our assessment of whether the final proposal will adequately protect the community."

Brendan O'Connor claimed that he was open to suggestions, but reminded Clark that the public were in complete support of an R18+ rating for games.

‘‘The public has been consulted extensively on this matter and overwhelmingly support the introduction of an adult classification for games," claimed O'Connor.

‘‘About 60,000 submissions were received in the last consultation round, showing huge community support for the introduction of an adult computer game classification. I await state and territory governments’ views on the draft guidelines and remain open to sensible suggestions consistent with community expectations and good public policy.’’

While many have interpreted Clark's statements as an outright rebuttal to the proposed R18+ rating, it's worth noting that at no point during the interview did he claim that he outright opposed such a rating. That said, he did state that the "Coalition Government" were concerned about the draft guidelines, which suggests that the issue may get caught up in the web of party politics as the Coalition seek to appease their Conservative voter base.

We're remaining positive. The position of the new NSW Attorney-General remains unclear, but there is plenty of support amongst the other Attorneys-General. Hopefully common sense will prevail. Brendan O'Connor has stated that a decision will be made in July, hopefully that decision won't be delayed by the petty squabbles of party politics.

Video games reform rebuffed over violence fears [The Age]


Comments

    This is becoming farcical. This surely highlights the ineptitude of the politicians who are said to serve us. I honestly don't understand what is gained politically by holding this up any longer.

    The amount of money that is wasted in the constant back and forth of this issue should become the focus of this issue. Overpaid politicians, not doing their job, wasting further public resources so that they can decide whether to bring Australian classification laws to the level they should have been in the twentieth century let alone the twenty first.

      Instead of being treated as a classification issue it has become a way to beat up on the youth and score some easy political points with conservative older voters.

    Also good to hear O'Connor's immediate dismissal of the public consultation concern.

    There was an article on The Age website about this topic on the weekend.

    http://www.theage.com.au/digital-life/games/video-games-reform-rebuffed-over-violence-fears-20110402-1csmm.html

    The accompanying poll of roughly 5000 votes was 96% in favour of an R18.

    We've already had the public debate, you neanderthal. This has been addressed in every form of media, with comments from all interested parties. Despite the best efforts of the ACL to misrepresent the subject, there are more gamers who want the rating than there are people who oppose the rating. The man-in-the-street view has overwhlmingly been "oh, you there's no R18+ for gameS? They should fix that".

    PICK UP A NEWSPAPER, YOU DULL-WITTED CHIMP.

    Why is is every time we get close to a resolution, some mental trainwreck puts his hand up and admits he hasn't been doing his homework? Stay back after school, you need some serious remedial DO-YOUR-JOB.

      You shouldn't mention gamers at all

      The fact is there are more people who want it than dont, whether they be gamers,grannies or racists is beside the point

      Once you label it as gamers over people it ends up being marketed as gamers are trying to force their own agenda not what the public wants

      To be fair, he's suggesting debate on the contents of the proposed classification, which hasn't been had yet.
      ...Although it is looking increasingly likely the Federal Gov't will have to step in in July...

    It's clear as day now that the Federal Government is going to have to step in

    If this system continues, it will never ever ever ever ever ever ever reach a conclusion because Governments keep changing.

    It's the most inefficient system in history. Anyone would think that classification is bigger than tax legislation etc looking from the outside in because it requires more consultation then introducing or changing a tax regime

    amazing...

      Agreed.

        Mark would you interested in doing a news article to advertise a petition I have running at the moment in favour of introducing an R18 please? Its nearing 1500 signatures so far.

          The petitions have already been done, including one that gathered tens of thousands of signatures and has already been tabled in federal parliament.

          http://www.kotaku.com.au/2010/11/senator-lundy-tables-record-breaking-petition-supports-r18-rating/

          We're way past the point where another petition would make a difference one way or the other.

            I think we're at the point where we need a V for Vendetta Games.

          All your petition will do, is tell us what we've already known for along time. An overwhelming majority of the public are in support of an R18 rating change. I can't see yet another petition swaying the minds of the decision makers.

          And I'm still skeptical on how the Federal government can intervene when the SCAG delay once again, or even IF they can intervene....

          And that's assuming the government as a whole supports O'Connor's stance.

    i don't think these A**hole Generals actually care about the issue, they just use it as a platform to make headlines, and to continue those political promises we know and love, 'support me in other causes, and I'll support you in R18!' A**holes.

    “The Victorian government will decide our position based on our assessment of whether the final proposal will adequately protect the community.”

    Adequately protect the community from what?

    Everyone, repeat after me: video games have never been shown to cause harm.

    That should be our mantra. Video games have never been shown to cause harm. If you want to oppose their existence, demonstrate the harm that people need to be protected from.

    Until harm has been demonstrated, treat video games like every other medium. It makes no sense to me that A Clockwork Orange can depict teenage rape in both novel and film form but the mere suggestion of consensual sex in a video game is the cause of great moral outrage.

      I wonder how they rationalise that. Does a book that involves a 15 year old drugging and raping a couple of girls who were... how old were they in the novel, 9? 12? Does that get grandfathered out as a relic of a simple time? Lolita is an example of forbidden love. Brooke Shields appeared nude in several movies while she was under 18.

      Were these controversial at their release? Yes, absolutely. But anyone today can access them.

      Let games with graphic content be controversial, but stop blocking our access to them. An 18 year old man can't comically rip someone's spine out in the latest Mortal Kombat game, but any literate tween can read about Alex's horrorshow exploits in a world where narcotics are available at a corner milk bar.

        When it comes to examples of ridiculous censorship, it is hard to go past the 60s film version of Romeo and Juliet. The lead actress was unable to attend the premiere because she was below the age restriction imposed on the film (I think it was 17 or 18+ and she was 16). The reason for the rating? A single shot of the lead actress's exposed breasts.

        She wasn't able to see the film because of something she literally saw every day in the mirror.

        Not entirely relevant, but it just goes to show that there really is no logic behind the censorship process.

        Interactive.

        That's all they need to rationalize it.
        In their minds.

        You watch/read the rape.

        They have the belief that if sex was in a game it would be controlled so that's when they go nuts.

        Your no longer the witness, your the person performing these acts. Since the aim of most games is to put you in the protagonists shoes

      I'm trying a different approach and just called several local high schools. I spoke with the libraries and asked them if they had Lolita, The Godfather or A Clockwork Orange available.

      No such luck. I'm tempted to call around until I find a school that does have at least one of them. I'm even more tempted to see if any Victorian high school library has them, considering who is currently arguing positioning himself against violent video games.

      "video games have never been shown to cause harm."

      Not true (in the sense that there *have* been studies demonstrating that violent games make people feel more violent), but the harm measured, while statistically significant, was absolutely tiny.

      Certainly nothing approaching the level of, say, soccer/football hooliganism. When was the last time you heard of a crowd of Halo players tearing apart a venue?

      Otherwise the addictive qualities of MMOs have lead to several documented deaths. I'm guessing less deaths per capita than alcohol or cigarettes.

        Increased short term aggression is what those studies measure and it does not equate to harm in most people's vocabularies. Particularly when you consider that some studies have shown similar changes in behaviour after experiencing hot weather or playing frustrating, non-violent video games.

        I don't really have a simple rebuttal for the MMO thing though, although I would argue that anyone who would starve themselves to death or commit suicide over an MMO is clearly not in the best mental state to begin with.

    Politics getting in the way of progress yet again... Sigh.

    Let's hope we can wrap up this whole shebang sooner rather than later.

    "The Coalition government is very concerned that the draft guidelines currently being proposed by the Commonwealth would legalise games with high levels of graphic, frequent and gratuitous violence, including violence against civilians and police."

    These games are already legal. They're rated M or MA and called things like 'Grand Theft Auto' and because we have no R rating 10 year olds are able to convince their parents to let them play. *sigh*

    So...let me get this straight, unless this Clark fellow votes yes (considering most of the others are in agreement), we go back to the pointless discussions for another 10 years keeping in mind over 90% of the public are in support? Please tell me this isn't how things work here?

      If the SCAG vote isn't unanimous, one of two things will probably happen:

      1. The Feds will step in and try to go over their heads to impose it by enacting new legislation. There is precedent for doing this, but not a lot, and getting it through the House, with a hostile Liberal party lead by a conservative Christian and the balance of power being held by country independents, might prove tricky.
      2. It will get put off until the ALRC's broad classification review is completed. Then either SCAG or the Feds will have to decide which recommendations to act on.

      With either option, time to reform is 2-3 years, if ever.

        After July, though, don't forget that the Senate balance of power shifts to the Greens (i.e. an ALP-Greens bloc could get anything through). The Greens are, whatever their other policies, definitely in favour of an R18+ classification.

        I agree that the lower house might prove difficult, but the independents clearly have other priorities that they would want to focus on. I can't see any of them, except maybe Katter, making any sort of a big deal over classification reform.

    Ahh Screw it.

    Im over caring about this now.

    Its all bullshit. Let them ban all the games they want.

    I'll just import them, or get them from somewhere else. Like everyone else will...

    Like kids, who they so desperately want to protect, are getting their hands on now..

    Since there are a whole of unsuitable games in the MA15+ category that aren't suitable for that rating.

    But hey, lets be ignorant about the situation!

    Fuck it...Im over caring.

      I'm with you! I'm so totally over the whole thing.. I'm well over 18, so I can play pretty much any game I want.. if not, I can import.

      If and when I have children, I'll be pro-actively monitoring all of their media exposure, video games or otherwise. I don't need the government to tell me what's suitable for my kids to watch, I'm quite capable of working that out myself.

      Let one of these genius' explain to me how it would protect children if they were to remove the R 18+ rating on violent DVD's. Surely if they're against an R Rating for Video games, then they would be against the R Rating for movies?

      I don't know what's better about importing games from the UK - the significantly lower prices or the PEGI dude's voice.

    Good to see Brendan O'Connor step up to the plate and try to head this off. Honestly you can pretty much copy/paste the lead up to these AG meetings where the R18+ for games are going to be discussed!

    Unbelievable ... These lizards are just delaying any decision so that they have something in their lazy calendar to "work" on. Maybe fly to the US and Europe to do some "research".

    People - Kick these clowns out. They are creating red tape, wasting time and wasting tax payers money. Enough!

      We, uh, just voted Robert Clark in last year. It's all Victoria's fault :P

      Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos.

        Yeah, he's a new bloke. The old one, Rob Hulls, was all for R18+ and also took the initiative to publicly state the fact, as well as putting pressure on the others who weren't (hello Atkinson).

        Rob Hulls is my rep.

        I rang the Lib office to see what their reps stance would be if elected and suprise I still havent had a call back despite leaving my name address and phone number etc.

        I now have my answer. :(

    They want public opinion? Let the people vote... It would be cheaper to spend 40mill and get a few questions out of the way in 1 hit than spend 10 years playing "why should we when..."

    Again, we find ourselves facing a potential roadblock, we don't need more discussion. They were concerned about letting in increasingly more violent games with the R18+ aaaaages ago! This argument has been done to death - they need to make a freaking decision or someone will have to step up and do it for them. Here's hoping for the latter.

    Yayyyyyyyyy! This is why face-palms were invented!

    hahahahahhahhahahah

    What have i been saying people this will never happen like the NBN. All talk and no walk meanwhile it has been going on since 2003 lmao

    Well done Australia

      They're probably waiting until they can find a way to sneak their dictatorial internet censorship regime under our noses before doing anything with the NBN

      Freedom is Slavery.

    The depressing thing of it all was that this featured on the front page of the Sunday Age, and this morning I eagerly turned to the letters section to read some reader opinions on the matter, hoping for some good debates (or at least some ill-informed bad ones, for a laugh) and yet there wasn't a single one. Even though the article splashed "gory" images from L4D and FEAR2 all over place, no one gives a shit.
    Really, The Age tried pretty hard to make an R18 rating sound like it'd teach children to rape and murder people, and still there wasn't a single letter. If there's no anti-R18 response from an article biased like this, why are we even debating it?
    Just fucking make the rating already.

    P.S. Dear THQ, don't let Saints Row 3 fall through the gaps, goddamn I want to play that game :)

    OH, FOR GOD'S SAKE! This is becoming ridiculous. Where is the NSW AG going to fall on this now?

    I wish there were decades of public consultation and debate every time a politician wanted a payrise...

    Got really frustrated about this on Friday. I thought we were past all that crap. A massive massive sigh.

      Friday? I meant Sunday. My weekend was just one big blur of sleep.

    Unfortunately the RC of Mortal Kombat is helping their cause because they use that as a basis of their argument that if R18 gets in "more games of extreme violence will be allowed on our shores".

    They are ignoring the MA15+ games that should be R18. They are now turning towards those high profile games that have been RC and will be allowed in under R18.

    This whole "we have no control over what kids do once it leaves the store" is a useless argument and for some reason never comes up with any other medium, yet does all the time with games.

    /facepalm
    /head desk

    You know i have just discovered a loop hole. Whats to stop game companies just editing a game for australia meanwhile its uncut all across globe so its get the pass via oflc meanwhile people are free to import because it has passed oflc.

      If they alter the game then that means the game passed by the OFLC is not the same game you're importing, therefore importing is still technically illegal. I say technically because that's exactly what people did with uncut GTA games in the past and I didn't hear of too many actually getting caught.

        thing is would customs be on the look out for it as much as mortal kombat hahah its very interesting. Mind you i doubt we will ever get a R+ to much talk not enough walk.

    What purpose do state governments serve apart from wasting money and time?

    Actual question, since I can't think of any myself.

      I should add, I mean which couldn't easily instead be given to the federal govt or local councils.

    if we don't get a freaking R rating games kids in australia will keep playing ma15 games that are rated R in other countries, if the politicians and Christians are so worried about kids being exposed to violent footage/gameplay then why are they so against the introduction of an R18+ rating,,grrrrr the christians and politicians need to stop being so bloody conservative and do some homework on the subject!!!

      I think you'll find that what the right-wing loonies at the ACL and other similar groups would say is that if the game should be R-rated then they'd want it banned outright, not squeezed down into the MA15+ rating.

      Considering games that are MA15+ here but 18+ overseas include probably the biggest brands in gaming such as Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty, I reckon even the Christian-lobby-pandering A-G's would think twice about pissing off that many gamers, not to mention the amount of money it'd cost retailers and, as a consequence, GST revenues.

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