In the wake of news that R18+ legislation passed through the senate without amendment, Jane Fitzgerald, Assistant Secretary at the Classification Operations Branch spoke extensively at Game-Tech about what happens next for R18+ in Australia. There's a lot that still needs to be done, but Jane seems confident that loose ends will be tied up in time for the January 1 deadline.
Jane also went into detail on the difficult process of pushing R18+ classification through Parliament.
"Bringing this into fruition has been a really long task," she said.
"To cut a long story short, there were 27 speakers in the House of Representatives, and two parliamentary committee inquiries, on top of all the other stuff that happened before it got there. This included me having to give some evidence to one parliamentary inquiry. Then there were four speakers in the senate last night, but the bill has now passed."
According to Jane, the Classification Board has plenty to do before January 1, and not all of it is in her hands.
"Before we can relax, before January 1, we’ve got plenty to do,"she explained. "Firstly we have to finalise new standardised computer game guidelines. Some of ou have been keenly following these. What I can say today is that the commonwealth is hopeful of finalising the guidelines very soon, over the past six months detailed negotiations have occurred to produce a set of guidelines that will be acceptable to all jurisdictions and I hope that in the very near future they will be released.
"Finally we need to produce a new markings determination, which is a document that sets out the rules about how and where classifications and consumer advice need to be displayed. And we should also have that done before January 1."
And there is, of course, the matter of the additional state and territories legislation.
"The states and territories have some work to do as well," she said. "They need to pass the complimentary legislation through their respective parliaments. The ACT has already drafted its bill and I know that several other states are very advanced in developing theirs."
Jane remains optimistic that state legislation will be passed in time.
"All censorship ministers have agreed on the timetable, so I’m operating on the assumption that they’ll all get the job done," said Jane. "We know, from keeping in touch with our state and territory based colleagues that people are at various stages of advancement with getting the legislation drafted to be passed. All of the jurisdictions have sitting period in the second half of the year, so they can all potentially get it done.
"I’m choosing for the moment, to operate on the basis that it’ll be done. So let’s cross that bridge when we hopefully don’t come to it!"