We've been informed by Brendan O'Connor's office that the new guidelines for an R18+ classification are due to be released today. In the wake of that, and NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith's comments on Seven News last night, we spoke to Brendan O'Connor himself to clear up some of the details.
"I understand he has concerns but I think those concerns are already dealt with with the Refused Classification rating," said O'Connor, when we asked him about Smith's comments. "There will continue to be material that is Refused Classification but some of what he is referring to is already Refused Classification. [Some of] the games he refers to are already banned.
"There was every effort to make sure that we have better protection for minors so they’re not engaging in what I believe and what the Classification Board believes to be adult content."
It was difficult to discuss the details of the new guidelines given the fact that we haven't had access to them yet, but Brendan O'Connor believes that the guidelines are a "step forward."
The guidelines are a reflection of the very clear and extensive considerations of the council of attorneys general," claimed O'Connor. "This is another step forward and another step closer to realising the introduction of an R18 classification.
"I believe that there has been a perverse outcome in the absence of an R18+ where we have pushed content into a lower classification.
"Certainly that concern will be reflected in the changes of the guidelines but also we accept that there should be an adult classification for video games, and this will come about as a result of our long and vigorous prosecution of this argument. We want to do two things: have a classification for adult gamers so they have comparable entitlements to other countries around the world and take adult content out of the hands of children."
David Emery, the Manager of Applications at the Classification Branch, estimated that it would be at least two years until he received an application for an R18+ rated video game in Australia — O'Connor maintained that we wouldn't have to wait that long, but did concede that there were obstacles that have to be navigated.
"We need to make sure that the legislation is enacted in all of the jurisdictions so we can have this R18+ rating in effect next year," he said. "The commonwealth has begun drafting the necessary amendments and is on track to introduce it to parliament early next year.
"I and the other ministers take this very seriously and we’ll be looking at this as soon as we can.
"There are some hurdles to jump, but we have a readiness and a willingness of all governments to get this done. There are some mechanisms that can’t be done with the speed of light but will be done as soon as possible."