Queensland Set To Miss R18+ Deadline

Queensland Set To Miss R18+ Deadline

When the Federal Government passed R18+ legislation it set a January 1 deadline for all states and territories to pass its own individual R18+ legislation, to help regulate the sale of adult video games Australia-wide. Since then most states and territories have either passed, or are in the process of passing, that legislation. But now Queensland has become the first state to officially delay its decision regarding R18+ past the January 1 deadline. Yet, bizarrely, this will not halt the sale of R18+ video games in that state.

The reasons why Queensland delayed the legislation are unclear. It appears to simply be the end result of a busy parliament; a parliament that skimmed over the details.

On October 31 the bill was read, as standard, introduced by Jarrod Bleijie the Attorney-General for Queensland. A motion was passed to send the bill to the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee. The next day Liberal MP Ray Stevens, the Manager of Government Business said the following in parliament:

I seek leave of the house… in accordance with standing orders 1361 that the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee report back to the house on the clarification… sorry classification of computer games and images and other legislation by the 7th of February 2013.

In short, the bill has been passed to a committee that won’t be able to report back until well after the January 1 deadline, well after R18+ games can legally be sold in this country.

Interestingly, there was absolutely no discussion of the R18+ topic — no disputes or debates. The legislation was simply sent to committee on October 31 and, on November 1, Ray Stevens confirmed that the committee would report back in February. There is no mention of the January 1 deadline, no mention of the fact that the R18+ rating will already have been put in place for over two months by the time the committee report back. It appears to be a decision made in complete ignorance of the deadline.

But how does this affect the R18+ rating in both Queensland and across Australia? We spoke to the Classification Board and the Department of Justice in Queensland and, surprisingly, this decision will not halt the sale of any R18+ rated games in Australia.

According to a Classification Board representative, R18+ games can still be sold in other states and, incredibly, the delayed legislation in Queensland won’t actually halt sales of adult classified games in their own state.

“As far as Queensland goes, the legislation deals with the display and sale of games and I’m pretty sure that will still be the case. There just won’t be any provisions for how the games will be displayed or sold,” said the representative.

The representative did, however, inform us that he couldn’t be 100% sure of precisely what would happen. We got in contact with the Department of Justice in Queensland to confirm, and this is where things get interesting.

Since Australia has previously had no R18+ rating for video games there is absolutely nothing in current legislation that prohibits the sale of R18+ games. Retailers are forbidden from selling ‘unclassified’ video games but, in this case, the games will be classified — they’ll be classified under an R18+ rating that simply isn’t referenced in any legislation. This means that R18+ games can be sold, but there is literally no law to manage that process — no details on punishment for sale to minors, no set rules on how the games can be displayed. Nothing.

“There’s no reference to it,” explained the spokesperson from Queensland’s Department of Justice, “There’s nothing in the legislation that prohibits it, because we’ve never had [an R18+ rating] before.”

This puts Queensland in a precarious situation. By delaying its own legislation Queensland has practically guaranteed it will have zero provisions or restrictions on how R18+ video games will be sold in its state for up to three months. This means that, technically, retailers could sell adult games to children with no fear of punishment from the State.

And, incredibly, the situation seems to have arose with a complete lack of knowledge — it has simply slipped through the cracks. We’ve heard rumblings that Campbell Newman’s QLD government feels it hasn’t had enough time to be briefed on the R18+ situation, a situation that has taken over ten years to resolve.

It is a nigh on perfect example of the madness of bureaucracy in action.


  • Considering the pitfalls of the current games classification system, perhaps we should start thinking about pushing for an independent classification board a la ESRB or PEGI?

        • well not reall international standardisation, but our government, our laws, our way of life, hell even our sports of choice are from the UK. the place we really differ is when it comes to classification. I f we were a republic, then i could under stand us having a different set up for certain things, but for something like classifcation we should use what the UK use and they use PEGI. i believe even South africa uses the PEGI rating system as well.

    • PEGI would be the best choice as it aligns well with our own categories. ESRB has its own share of issues (eg the fact that no one ever gets the top classification because all three console companies refuse games with that classification to be released on their system)

  • I just hope QLD parents and retailers are smart enough to actually pay attention to the ratings on their media.

    Yeah right.

  • Surprise surprise. I didn’t vote for him. He is a part of the reason we’re moving to Melbourne when the missus finishes Uni.

  • You know I had a joke lined up about Queensland abolishing electricity due to reform, but since the sale of R18+ games won’t be affected I can’t really joke about Queensland still being in the dark ages.

  • The fact i could predict this very thing would happen and in QLD to boot six months ago, makes me think the Federal AG and State AG’s have no idea how classification law works in this nation.

  • So, to get my head around this: On a Federal level, Aus has already agreed that R18+ is going to happen. What is being debated in states is how to implement these games?

    • The states are in charge of working out how the display and sale of these games will be handled. Things like the penalty to selling to minors and whatnot.

        • I would be incredibly stupid and ineffective, but I don’t know of anything stopping a state from putting a law in place prohibiting the sale of R18+ content to everyone (or prohibit the sale of it to anyone under the age of 73 should they so decide).

          Western Australia has vastly different laws about the ownership of RC content compared to the rest of the nation. I imagine the same logic that lets them do that let’s all the states do what they wish.

          • Trjn it would be pointless because you could import legally from another state. The states only control how things are displayed, not whether its allowed in their state or not. The reason why WA can have seperate RC laws is because you break the customs act by importing an RC game

            also Australia as a nation has refused the game. WA tags onto that refusal to amp up the punishments. Australia as a nation now allows R18 games.

            The states don’t realise it but they are completely rooted on this issue. They cannot block those games from their state. If they do people import from other states because other states allow the games.

            And to own the game would not be illegal because it was legally classified in the nation of Australia for which the federal government has jurisdiction

            Unfortunately all the brain dead Governments in each state think they have more power than they do, and they don’t. QLD is going to learn a harsh lesson over this because they will realise they do not control classification.

            The classification laws given to each state is just lip service from the Feds. The feds control classification, the states control how the products are displayed and sold, only that.

            As there is no customs between states, import is easy. GAME OVER QLD , WA and NT. GAME OVER.

            Due to this there was absolutely no point to any state even trying to stop this happening once the federal government passed the law. But they are so naive to think they are powerful and can stop it


          • Ah yep fair enough. I was mainly saying even though the public can import an item, it won’t stop a state from banning the sale of a certain item eg Victoria/Underbelly.

          • Never forget though this is the state that under good ole Sir Joh managed to banned damn near everything including protesting – In fact I believe until only a few years ago there were still books banned in QLD that weren’t banned anywhere else in the country.

  • i suspect that national game retails will still follow some sort of conduct for sales in Queensland. I would not expect them to leave it a free for all.
    it will be the smaller stores that could possibly exploit this situation. until the state government can resolve this issue.

    it will be great to finally have some non censored (more likely less censored) games on the australian market

  • I would love to see statistics of how efficient politicians are at their jobs, compared to other jobs in the private sector. They are rubbish at getting things done.

    • This what happens when you pay people to talk and expect results.

      If you used that logic with a prostitute you would be wasting time and money.

  • It certainly is a strange situation… how do you enforce a law that has no [defined] penalty for breaking it? Common sense should prevail (after all, there’s a far more serious perception of the R18 rating than the MA15 rating afaik), but common sense isn’t universal.

    Maybe it’ll be a case of taking names: “You there, you sold that kid an R-rated game! Give us your details so we can come after you when we know what we should do!”

  • No laws in place for selling R18+ games, I suppose it would be too hard to copy the laws for selling R18+ movies.

    With no penalties and rules in place I guess retailers will need common sense… Is it just me or are the governments getting worse with more BS and spin and less results? And what was the penalty for missing the Jan 1st deadline? Apparently nothing,

    I suppose it would be too much to cut the politicians pay for under performance and failing to meet deadlines.

    • In Queensland? Yup. This is what happens when politicians try to play politics instead of just getting on with the damned job

  • There you go Queensland kiddies. You’ve got between 1st Jan and 7th Feb 2013 to buy up all the R18+ games you want because it won’t be technically illegal. Let lawlessness reign!

  • Way back in March, just before this imbecile was elected with one of the biggest landslides in Australian Political history, I said then that Queensland would come to regret it dearly in less then a year.

    Here we are.

  • All jurisdictions have now passed the R 18+ games amendment bill except QLD of course. I checked the parliament websites of all the hold-outs. NT passed theirs 2 days ago – Tuesday the 4th. The bill passed and got royal assent in WA, Vic and Tas in late November. As reported on this website ACT, NSW and SA passed theirs before that 🙂

  • And yet my copy of Mortal Kombat sits for sale at the local Pawnbroker for $12… retail Max Trolled Yo word up nigz 😛

  • Well it’s 7th February.

    Is QLD on board now ?

    I googled “Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee” and I think they’ve missed the deadline of today 🙁

    (unless the website hasn’t been updated yet)

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