Why A Politician Came To PAX Australia

Why A Politician Came To PAX Australia

This year Greens Senator Scott Ludlam came to PAX Australia, attending the ‘Meet The Brains In Charge Of The Aussie Games Industry’ panel before spending time at the Diversity Lounge and the show floor. Here, writing for Kotaku Australia, he explains why.

There’s a gigantic banner hanging in the concourse of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre for PAX2015 that just reads: “welcome home”.

The thing is, they mean it: for an event that will be attended by 70,000 people over the course of three days, there is something curiously homely about this massive gaming convention. I’ve been away from this world for longer than I like to admit, and I’ve missed a thousand cultural, subcultural and sub-sub cultural cues and in-jokes before I’ve been here a quarter hour, but it doesn’t matter. It still feels like home.

Yes, the triple-A studios are there with thumping great installations in the main exhibition hall; you can queue to get a first look at Battlefront or Fallout if that’s your thing. It’s a reminder that video games long-ago shook off the kids-stuff tag and is now a serious global industry. Same on the hardware side – if you go looking you’ll find the newest graphics cards displayed on glass plinths like alien artefacts, and a few advance delegations from the wave of headset providers and immersive technologies poised to break over this community.

But high technology and big studios are not the heart and soul of this event. The bulk of the exhibit hall is given over to smaller local developers and independents, and it is here that the scale and vitality of the local industry is most readily on display. These are the survivors of the great GFC wipeout of 2008, the unsustainably high Australian dollar and the untimely cancellation of the Australian Interactive Game Fund (AIGF).

After a decade of lobbying and advocacy by the Game Developers Association of Australia and the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association, the three-year $20 million AIGF was finally introduced by then-Arts minister Simon Crean in late 2012. Despite great success in fostering companies like the Voxel Agents and Uppercut, and titles like Framed and Hand of Fate, the fund was thoughtlessly deleted by Senator George Brandis after only one year of operation.

What could this industry accomplish if it benefitted from similar supports to those hard-won by the film and television industry? Costs associated with digital animation attract a 30% tax offset, provided that animation is for a feature film. If the animation is for a game, even a cutscene for a licensed film property game, no such incentives are offered. That’s carelessness rather than malice, and it’s easily fixed.

About half of Australia’s digital games industry is based in Victoria, partly because it has been encouraged to do so by state funding programs similar to the way we support the film industry. On a brief tour of the Arcade in Melbourne – funded in part by the Victorian Government – the lasting impression is one of massive potential. These survivors have woven together an entire industry ecosystem between these four walls – imagine if the national policy environment was one of support rather than neglect.

There’s been a lot of talk from the Turnbull government about our clever-agile-technology-driven-digital- disruptive-innovative country. But a tech-buzzword drinking game seems to be the only contribution to the sector so far. We deserve better.

Most importantly, this is not really a technology story or an industry story. This is about people, community and new storytelling artforms coming into being before our eyes. That’s why the ‘welcome home’ banner at PAX holds such resonance. No matter what your thing, you’re welcome here: this community is determined to shake off the fiction that it is only a place for young white men. Its right out in the open in the flamboyant cosplay that will spill cheerfully into the surrounding streets as the weekend progresses, but it is also up in the diversity lounge where organisers have made space for provocative conversations about inclusiveness and belonging in #gamergate’s bruising aftermath. The resolution that this community seems to be working towards is: no matter what your thing, you’re welcome here.

The organisers deserve warm accolades/cold beer for managing to pull off an event of this scale while actively promoting the essential niches, microclimates and conversation spaces for every part of this diverse, evolving collection of subcultures, freaks, geeks, nerds, technologists and dreamers. Where else can you test bleeding-edge immersive VR technology, narrowly lose a 12-foot wide game of Cogz while having your mind bent in circles trying to figure it out, play D&D in front of 800 people, and be asked sharp questions about mass surveillance, gender transitioning or the closure of remote Aboriginal communities in the Diversity Lounge?

Where indeed. Thanks for everything PAX. It’s good to be home.


  • They’re trying to connect with the young people. Y’see the kids, they listen to the rap music which gives them the brain damage, with their hippin’ and the hoppin’ and the bippin’ and the boppin’.

    • No matter what you think about Ludlum’s politics, you can’t deny that he has a damn good record when it comes to engaging younger people on things they care about. Probably because he seems to actually care about those things, too.

      This isn’t a 65 year old guy wearing a backwards baseball cap and awkwardly calling things radical. It’s a younger guy who is seemingly genuinely interested and engaged. Even if it’s all an act, it’s a pretty good one.

      • I was only making a joke.

        I have no idea who this Ludlum guy is, and I don’t give a shit. I take zero interest in politicians because they’re ALL lying scumbags that act like little children. I mean seriously, have you ever watched Question Time?

        • I’ve watched it semi-regularly for about 15 years, actually.

          To be honest, it’s in your best interests to care. You care who your boss is because that’s the person who controls a big part of your life. Parliament is a giant building full of bosses who control your work, home, family, tax, car, tv, internet, education… damn near everything you can think of. You don’t have to like your boss, but you should at least know who they are.

  • Once again Scott Ludlum raises good points. Once again though, I’m not seeing many actions to take away from this. We know there’s problems, we know there’s a lot that needs to be done. How can we go about getting it all back on track?

      • Well I’ve been traipsing around post-apocalyptic Boston for a while now and things seemed to turn out ok there? *cough cough*

          • Oh shit I totally forgot about that. NOOOO!!! Ahh well. I’ve still only put 12 hours into the game… Even though I’ve got no kids and barely and responsibility… Oops 😛

          • I was poking fun at the bugs in FO4. I didn’t actually do that.

            Not to get to far off track, the state of the bugs and other issues had me deciding to put the game down and maybe try again next year once it has a few patches under the belt.

            At least my character is all made up. Not to sound silly but I inadvertently made him look like Walt Disney with a tan and stronger build, :-P.

          • Really? I haven’t had an issue to date, beyond the odd crash because my PC is not the fastest anymore. Ahh well. You’ll have fun when you do come back, I really rate it 🙂

          • The economy in FO4 is a pathetic joke. You spend more money and time on ammo and stimpacks wiping out a factory of super mutants or what not, THEN come back to the town or person asking for it to be done and get paid 200-300caps!!! Enough to buy a few dozen bullets or so………. ……

            Should be 2000-3000caps! basically you’re a charity in FO4, it seems.

    • Scott does raise good points, unfortunately when you’re not the majority governing party there’s not too much you can do aside from advocate for your causes.

      • Well you definitely can’t enact them as a minority, still good to have some action plans though 🙂 Especially when Scott is making a solid representation for the video game industry in Australia.

      • Hopefully the cause gets some traction within the major parties.

        The last thing Australia needs is the Greens having more power. For every good idea they have, there’s 10 more that would be disastrous.

          • Sorry, I withdraw my previous comment. I had been told by of their “policies” by ignorant conservative friends who made the greens sound like a bunch of radicals. But after using my own brain for a few minutes and checking out what the greens really stand for online, I realized that I’d been told blatant lies and misinformation by my supposed friends.

            Now I really hope I’ll see the day when the greens hold a majority of seats in parliament. The policies they put forward are very intelligent and progressive, not to mention fair (in regards to everyone, especially the minorities, as opposed to appealing to the far right demograph exclusively as the libs and lab do).

            Again, sorry for my ignorant remark. I guess I learnt a valuable lesson here in regards to second-hand infomation (and the lack of intelligence amongst the main parties and their supporters).

    • Well persuading more people that this is important is a start. This article attempts to do that. Maybe it won’t have enough far reaching effects, but if at least convinces a few more people that this in important, that’s a win.

      • You’re right, it is the first steps. I just see some of this discussion as a broken record, BUT that’s only because I think we need to do something already. I’m sure there’s plenty of people who haven’t contemplated the issue until now.

  • A thank you to Mr Ludlam is due, very glad to have you here sir. I’m not sure how to start this without sounding like a commenter or (worse?) rowdy Parliamentary bench-warmer.

    Have at it then.

    Australia is unique. We all know this. There are inherently known quantities that one must accept discussing ‘games’ as a whole in this country. That square peg will not fit into the round hole.

    AAA tried that in this country and we are now a wasteland.

    The way that mega-publishers and other hangers-on use conventions to market nowadays to “gamers” (and don’t we all hate that word) can be viewed very cynically, but let’s try and look PAX/etc with some optimism.

    PAX isn’t what we deserve, it’s what we need right now, though.

    Gamergate is by no means over. Gaming academia is at best un-qualified across the board to even speak about it with any authority and at worst, legitimises and indulges it.

    I have loathed Penny Arcade and what their ilk do in the games world since the days of MySpace.

    But if Australia, the country I love and cherish, can use PAX in some fashion to help turn this disgusting cesspool of a medium around, then I will gladly begin to listen to any ideas put forward.

    America, as far as gaming goes, is a smoking crater. Japan however, is the spiritual home of video games.

    If Australia as a whole massaged the Japanese market (games suited more to console, mobile experiences excel there) we could name our price.

    It’s ours for the taking.

    Or are we too busy binging on Netflix?

  • We can turn the rhetoric up all we like – There will be no recovery for the local gaming industry under a conservative government. None. While I appreciate that the Greens are probably the only party lobbying for some common sense in bringing back AIGF (Labor support it, but only insofar as that ‘The Libs took it away so they’re bad’), there is simply no ability to convince old white men in blue ties that video games are big business, not something that teens and loner twenty somethings bash-out of their garage after they’ve finished their mediocre Certificate II in IT at some third-rate TAFE in the suburbs.

    It doesn’t help that the only last big player we have in Australia – EA Games – serves locally as nothing more than an umbrella for smaller studios and mobile developers that they have consumed over the years. For the tiny footprint it has, it might-as-well be an independent studio itself.

    We can lobby as fans, we can lobby as independent developers, but the Liberal Government will only listen to one set of lobbyists – business (or, more specifically, the Business Council). And to get in their ear, you need business to champion the cause.

    Or we could just sack George Brandis and the world would just be better in all respects.

      • They run a candidate in most seats, so probably in the lower house. They wouldn’t be able to take the senate in a majority straight away though, six year terms.

        Entirely theoretical at this point though.

        • Of course it’s theoretical… Next election I’m going to sit down and pore over all the policies to work out who I should vote for properly this time.

          • Well I learnt my lesson a bit late mate 😛 As long as Family First are right at the top…. KIDDING! Those buggers go RIGHT to the bottom XD

          • or youi could do what i do and just no vote because voting is waste of time. just rock up, get your name marked off then tear up the vote and place it in the voting bin.

          • Mate I was so tempted to do that last election… In hindsight I should have. I do want to do my part though. But I understand where you’re coming from, I’m very close myself!

          • i got in trouble the last federal election for taking too long in the booth. got yelled at and everything. but my stick figure senate tapestry came out well and i hope i brightened the night of some poor fool who volunteered to count votes. 😀

          • Then your childish attempt at sticking it to The Man is worse than useless. Not only are you not changing things for the better, you are literally tearing the one tool you have to pieces.

            Informal voting doesn’t work as a form of protest. If you think the people in power don’t deserve to be there, you need to push them out. They own the tower. Throwing your weapons in the moat isn’t going to get them out. If you lay siege and fail, then at least you had a chance at success.

          • Or do what I do. Learn as much as you can where the preferences go and starve the most toxic party of preferences.

            Can’t stand Labor but if it means starving votes to Palmer and the Greens then they (Labor) are welcome to my vote.

          • I just wish they’d allow numbering parties/groups in order above the line as a third option between putting a single number above or numbering 98 boxes below the line…

          • That would make voting for the people who are time-poor easier and more powerful. Seeing that those people are likely to be lower income earners or under educated people, it would cause problems for those with a vested interest in keeping the lower classes low.

    • They’ll never get it, because all they ever focus on are on playing opposition screaming “It’s not good enough!” while offering plans that they know they’ll never have to implement. The Greens have the enviable position of perpetual opposition – they can promise the world and know they’ll never have to deliver it. They can advocate 100% renewable without nuclear power and look like the good guys, but they also know they’ll never form government at this rate and they’ll never shoulder the burden of making it happen.

      • exactly! they always complain and complain but when asked what will you do they never give a proper answer. Ask ms hanson-young about what she would do about border security and refugee intake and the only thing she will say is that they would end offshore processing. they wont talk about stopping people from, drowning at see or the fact that people in UN Refugee camps set up around world are waiting upto 25years to be resettled

        • Yup, why do you think I said what I said in my original post. It’s all questions and no answers. Show me how you’ll actually fix it and if I agree I will vote for you. You’d think it was an easy concept.

        • Ask ms hanson-young about what she would do about border security and refugee intake and the only thing she will say is that they would end offshore processing.

          This is the thing about the Greens; they are incapable of seeing the big picture and how actions and the subsequent reactions are networked.

          They are all about bringing them here but have no idea nor detail on how to economically house them until they are processed, educated so they can function (get a job, find a home, etc) or even the legal cost of handing someone claiming asylum when it turns out it is some jerk seeking only economic advancement and is not fleeing any harm whatsoever.

          Don’t get me wrong. Those seeking asylum via illegal means (as are these boat people) should be processed offshore but if found to be legitimate should be put at the tail end of the immigration queue and marked as low priority so those who come via legal channels are not disrupted.

          • This is the thing about the Greens; they are incapable of seeing the big picture and how actions and the subsequent reactions are networked.

            As opposed to any other government that has been in power?

          • Actually they can. But they only see the pathways that make it look as though they are working hard but are not doing a single thing.

            If they actually did their job instead of burning effort to avoid work, things would be different.

          • Doesn’t that piss you off though? The Greens policy is actually pretty good and I’m having a hard time understanding why you think they are incapable of seeing the big picture.

          • It pisses me off yes. But it would be a let down to my former teachers and PhD supervisor if I didn’t think objectively about this.

            Sometimes I see something and have to wait a while to cool off.

            But back to your statement, the publications from the Greens either fall into stating the obvious or actually resemble policies but are too idealistic and too insulated from other pressing issues.

            For example, one of their policies requires 70 Million a year to the UNHCR to process refugees. Now even if that were that simple, there is still the question where that funding comes from.

            Labor left our budget in a woeful state and despite the idiot moves from the Coalition (they should have just raised the GST and took the blow on the chin rather than award money to the coal industry, etc) that hint otherwise.

            And @ashigaru summed it best; taking refugees in (assuming they are all legitimate and there are no economic nor criminal refugees) is only addressing the symptoms and the plan should be to save harbour them until the crisis is over and they can be returned home.

          • The problem is, we are too blinded by what the media decide for us – your statement “seeking asylum via illegal means” is a classic example. It is not illegal to seek asylum (and arriving by boat is no different than arriving by plane). The Greens do often speak a lot of sense but they are pictured as tree-hugging lunatics. Labor is becoming more like the LNP these days so who else can you turn to?

          • The problem is, we are too blinded by what the media decide for us – your statement “seeking asylum via illegal means” is a classic example

            No, it is a statement of the fact.

            Just because I am stating an inconvenient truth does not mean you can imply I am swayed but the media.

            It is not illegal to seek asylum (and arriving by boat is no different than arriving by plane)

            No-one has ever said that. They are entitled to seek asylum but the fact they have gone outside of immigration channels makes their entry illegal hence the term illegal asylum seekers.

            The Greens do often speak a lot of sense but they are pictured as tree-hugging lunatics.

            That’s because they are. The media didn’t show that, the actions of their own members did so as well as their rants dressed up as policies on their own site.

            Seriously, the media influences no-one and if a person takes everything in print as fact and exerts no effort to verify the claims for fill the holes in the incomplete truth that is mainstream media then it is the fault of the individual.

          • No-one has ever said that. They are entitled to seek asylum but the fact they have gone outside of immigration channels makes their entry illegal hence the term illegal asylum seekers.

            Sorry, you’re wrong.


            That’s because they are. The media didn’t show that, the actions of their own members did so as well as their rants dressed up as policies on their own site.

            Please give us an example of a “rant”. Would you consider Scott’s statements above a “rant”?

          • Sorry, you’re wrong.

            No need to be sorry, because I am right. Let’s look at the source passage which is mis-leading at best.

            It is not illegal for people to flee persecution in their homeland

            No one has ever said that so I wonder why they keep starting with that answer to a never asked question.

            or to cross borders without documents or passports in order to seek asylum.

            Again, anyone is entitled to seek asylum. That has not been tagged as illegal.

            It is not a crime under Australian law to arrive here by boat without a valid visa and ask for protection.

            Asking may not be the crime but the arrival is. If one arrives without papers, then it is the job of the immigration department to detain the illegal arrival until the claims are verified. If the claims are proved invalid or false, the person can be deported.

            However, in some circumstances once the person is on our soil the illegal entrant (get used to it because the term is not going to be incorrect any time soon) can fight the deportation and in that case will be housed in detention as proceedings are carried out.

            This how offshore processing work (I’ll get to the current implementation problem in a moment). When processed off shore, any illegal entrant found with invalid or false claims can be sent back and not tie up our courts and other resources.

            However, despite me being in support of off processing to keep economic asylum seekers and others out, I do not condone the current implementation where even valid asylum seekers are not allowed passage here.

            But again, there is that catch @ashigaru pointed out, what do you do when they arrive and what plans if any to return them if the problem they flee becomes resolved?

            It’s not just a case of taking people in and calling it a day. There is more to the picture than these pamphlets and what the Greens say.

        • Er what?
          That is a standard response when one is not in government. Every party does it until the lead up to the next federal election, where they all start spilling the beans on policy.

          It’s baffling when people complain about this shit: the only time the Libs in opposition, over the past few cycles, outlined policy were in the years directly preceding a fed election; we’re now seeing Labor shy away from generalised and shy responses, to begin outlining policy because it’s within a year to the next fed election.

          • You’re right, it IS a problem with all parties. Why do you think the LNP looked like arsehats with Tones still in attack mode the whole time?

            The point still stands though that not enough people in opposition do anything BUT criticize. Why can’t they lay out alternatives? Why can’t we look towards how we fix the problems that are being brought up by the Greens/Labor/Independents? I really think it’s an opportunity to show why you’re different from the other party/ies instead of just saying that something is broken. I’d like to see some proper forward thinking 🙂

          • Why can’t they lay out alternatives? Why can’t we look towards how we fix the problems that are being brought up by the Greens/Labor/Independents?

            Because a lot of voters are lazy. Seriously, for most voters you can sum their attitude as “oh, I don’t like Hockey’s budget. I want an election now so Labor can get in and reverse his work.”

            Sorry in advance if I’m breaching to the choir here but in the last decade there was a problem with our rating system. Games didn’t have an R18+ rating.

            The main hold up was Labor member and South Australia’s Attorney General Michael Atkinson. As it stood, the rating system could only be changed if all voted yes. He out of utter contempt voted no.

            Eventually, the Gamers 4 Croydon party was formed and they created enough disruption that eventually lead to Atkinson to retire because he saw his support slipping and would not survive another election.

            The point I’m making is, Gamers 4 Croydon were a group who made constructive responses and challenges in response a broken system that needed to be fixed.

            But in this case case with game funding, nobody is emulating that move. Instead, they see Ludlum making noise and are backing him yet are failing to see that’s all he has to offer.

            And sadder still, I don’t think we’ll see a repeat of Gamers 4 Croydon again because too many think that if they are not happy with the party of the day, they can scream “ELECTION, NOW!” and get to switch the party on a whim.

            And the worst part. It’s already happening.

          • That’s actually a really good point. People forget they too can be a part of politics! Look at old mate Ricky Muir from the australian motoring enthusiast party. He’s not an alumni of any prestigious institutions (in fact he acted like a tit on numerous occasions) but he still got into the Senate!

            Gamer 4 Croydon may be the best example of how a grassroots movement CAN make a difference, as long as you get in there, do your part and make a difference 🙂

          • Look at old mate Ricky Muir from the australian motoring enthusiast party.

            GAH! Why did you make me remember him?! How could you?! I want my mummy! 😛

            Jokes aside, yes it shows people can get into politics but at the same time it shows not all of them should.

            If anything, Muir shows how the voting system needs repair as thanks to preference details he got in despite having less than one tenth of a primary vote!

            Or was that one two hundredth? I can’t remember.

          • Bit of a furphy to imply that the 3.7% vote for Gamers 4 Croydon lead to Atkinson’s resignation after he was re-elected to the seat of Croydon. We can probably assume that portion was part of the 15.6% swing against him, but it looks shaky to assume it was instrumental to his removal.

            Everyone involved in Gamers 4 Croydon deserve an awful lot of respect, we’re agreed on that.

          • Bit of a furphy to imply that the 3.7% vote for Gamers 4 Croydon lead to Atkinson’s resignation after he was re-elected to the seat of Croydon.

            Not really. Despite getting more than the 1% Atkinson though they’d never get (he is quoted as saying “I’d be surprise if they even get 1% of the the vote.”) I still maintain that their presence even minor was the catalyst to start the swing against him.

            Perspective is something one can only see if there is contrast between options. Thanks to G4C, they were finally providing a contrasting view made people think and even if they were not voted for, it made people reconsider their vote for Atkinson.

            But I will admit, I did over simplify but that was to keep the post short. If I covered everything, my post would come as a three part trilogy andPeter Jackson might start pursuing me for the movie rights, 😛

          • @wisehacker
            Bloody hell, don’t let Jackson get involved.

            All good. I’m still inclined to disagree, but your point on political contrast leads me to thing that I might be swayed if I did some more reading about the whole situation.

          • @scrumptatoes

            This might have to move to the “TAY” thread but what’s wrong with Peter Jackson?

            The Lord of the Rings was a good trilogy. The Hobbit though? Like butter spread over three very large pieces of bread, :-P.

            But anyhow if you do read, don’t let it be me that sways you. Let yourself be swayed by yourself and your interpretation. If it happens to line up with what I’ve learned and said here then it’s coincidental, not influential.

          • @wisehacker
            He’s a good filmmaker, Braindead/Dead Alive was a brilliant piece of genre. Lord of the Rings was neat, although it was probably better for people who like the source material, but I just couldn’t get into The Hobbit.
            To me it looks like the more Jackson tries to engage with a property, the more he adds wind and ambles. Once again, I’m no fan of the novels, so what I see as tedium could very well have greater meaning with understanding of the greater context.
            Same issue with King Kong, quite good storytelling and Summer film bombast set pieces bogged down in length and timing.

            I’m not one to shy away from slow films or 3+hr stories, so maybe it’s just his cadence that irks me.

          • I think I know the reason why. I think he only intended it to be one film, but Village (?) refused to fund him if he didn’t make a trilogy. At one point he even said it would be two films (like his original LoR pitch) but again stretched out to three by his creditors/distributors.

          • Yup we live in an “X-Factor” democracy…

            Fortnightly polls, call 1800 *whatever* to vote for your favourite…. ELECTION NOW!

            It’s as bad as that person that calls out “re-draw” when they don’t win a raffle.

          • HEY the re-draw call is a storied tradition at meat tray raffles. Don’t dare sully it XD

            But yes, X-Factor democracy is a very good way of describing it!

          • I’m definitely not saying that the method is a problem. Abbott’s behaviour is a non-sequitur to this issue, the guy’s behaviour has been deplorable throughout his entire political and should be held as deviant to standard politics.

            The government is elected to govern; the opposition acts to hold government to account. A simple and reductive explanation, yes, but illustrative of the usual conduct. The opposition do lay out alternative legislation, directly and via their role in amending government legislation.
            Why doesn’t the government give attention to the alternatives presented by the opposition? Many reasons, of which very few could be directly attributed to the opposition.

            Political literacy in this country is abysmal, you’re completely right in your proposition that progressive approaches to governing would be a good change. The general public and political base look light years from achieving that end.

          • Hmmmmmm, it’s been a while since I had a Guinness, :-9

            Or maybe an Asahi, or (no joke, real name) an Old Fart.

          • @ashigaru: You call that a BBQ?

            [Shows a flame grill running the length of Spencer Street.]

            This is a BBQ! :-D.

          • @ashigaru
            You lucky bugger. I think we do the occasional Friday arvo seminar with beer and pizza, then it’s a walk down the beach to stare at the unceasing monster that is the ocean.

        • People drowning at sea trying to seek asylum is preferable to me over being locked up and being treated like shit in a cage. If someone is trying to get here and they drown its not as inhumane as being locked up for years then sent back to the shit they escaped. Its costing us more having people in off shore detention centres than it is to process them here and give them cash money for games.

        • I apologise in advance for sounding like a jerk: You are either very uninformed or very misinformed. You saying that Hanson-Young has a simplified view on the whole thing is bizarre, seeing as she has been to the centres, has presided on the hearings, and has done this stuff for a job for years.

          I used be professionally involved in the onshore and offshore processing. It’s hard to know how much I’m allowed to talk about because there are both ethical issues on disclosure and the fact that the government is waving a big stick around very threateningly to anyone who might say a naughty thing. So you can trust what I say, or not. I know I’m not bringing a lot of evidence to the table.

          The system we have right now is so disgusting and such a violation of everything modern civilisation stands for that for many, dying of dehydration in the middle of the ocean in a leaky boat filled with corpses and human filth is the most attractive option. Everything about the how and why people get on those boats is complicated as hell, but there’s nothing complicated about the absolutely proven fact that we as a nation are committing massive human rights crimes and that we should stop.

      • That’s probably why last election, they submitted 85 such plans for independent costing by the Parliamentary Budget Office detailing what they’d do and how?


        What more do you want?

        @thyco, @ashigaru, @WiseHacker – The “GRN077 – Safer pathways for refugees” request and response seem to have more substance than your comments above?

          • Most at least try, come election-time.

            Uncle Tony, though – “Yeah, maybe I’ll tell you after I get in. Just because I’m grand-standing about the deficit, doesn’t mean I have to explain how I’d pay for anything.” He still managed in get in, with that level of obvious bullshit, so what do I know?

          • Pretty sure that was Uncle “Year of Ideas” Bill… How would they reach their renewables target?

            “We will outline all our policy when we are elected”.

          • Both major parties are guilty of it. Just because Labor is doing it doesn’t mean the LNP aren’t.

            Besides, nobody is holding Bill up as a great alternative. Just because people don’t like the LNP doesn’t mean they love Labor.

        • Most of the documents you linked to just boil down to “We’re throwing money at it and that’ll fix it!” with very little other detail. Their costing details for their 2013 election commitments is much more detailed but still basically spending money as if that fixes problems. Their healthcare policy is a mess – successive governments have tried and entirely failed to improve the public healthcare system by simply throwing more money at it. Why the Greens think their plan is any different is a mystery.

          It’s one thing to have a costings document but another to actually deliver on that – something the Greens know they won’t ever have to do. These bits of paper are quickly forgotten once the party comes into power – and are frequently torn apart by those opposite under scrutiny.

          • Sigh. Why did I write my verbose, meandering response when you’ve succinctly answered it. Damnit @Soldant 😛

          • I know there’s not heaps to go on there, and yes budget costings do tend to focus heavily on just the financial side but at least they’re coming to the table. Even if it’s flawed, saying “We’ll do this and this in this way and spend $x on doing so” is infinitely more useful than the major parties saying “Everyone else is BAD and IMPERFECT so vote for us because we’re not them!”.

            I’ll take policies that are imperfect, but that people more educated than me can evaluate as being a step in the right direction, over policies that might be perfect and can’t have any flaws pointed out due to not exposing them to criticism, any day of the week.

          • But that’s actually what the Greens do. Both the ALP and Coalition have extensive documents too. The Greens will disagree with anything that they can get away with – even if a party makes positive steps towards something (e.g. renewable energy) the Greens jump up and say that they don’t go far enough – quickly pointing to their own policy which consists of throwing more money at it.

            The political rhetoric from the Greens is as bad as the ALP and LNP – it’s just that they’re perpetually a minor party in opposition, so nobody pays them any attention.

        • I didn’t realise I had to outline a policy on the management of the refugee crisis affecting countries in the middle east, Africa and potentially parts of South America and South East Asia 😛

          Their response doesn’t seem to line up with their sentiment to abolish off-shore processing, in fact they want a 30 day limit which is pretty reasonable until you look at the increase in processing of 10,000 refugees a year and then the flow on effects of how can you make sure said refugees feel comfortable in Australia, are able to find work and able to freely and confidently be an active member of Australian society (there’s always going to be knobs making it hard for them though 🙁 ).

          What is the answer? Well that’s a complicated one. I think the Greens policy outlined above has some merit to begin with. We must also look at what is causing the crisis in the first place. The answer isn’t to just bring people into Australia for protection, we also have to look at how they can feel safe to return to their home country in the future to share this with their children and children’s children etc. Is the answer military intervention? Honestly couldn’t tell you that, that’s a can of worms I don’t want to look at.

          The other problem I can see is that the Greens have laid out some solid initiatives in their costing plan, however they are high level in their initial scope. Again I’m not going to say I’m an expert, I would like to see what specific plans they have. Looking at the election commitments, LNP had 15 and a bit pages of itemised budgetary commitments, ALP had 13 and Greens had 5 and a bit. Not asking them to perform a miracle considering the size of the party, just highlighting the scope the major parties have to take to be a viable option.

          One thing that has always struck me as disappointing for example is the constant push for public transport at the expense of major road infrastructure. I’m not saying I disagree with the need for Public Transport, it’s imperative to the livability of any major metropolis. Roads cannot be ignored however as Australia is so spread out it relies on trucks being the major logistical supplier of all of Australia.

          Your response asked me to just assess the Greens, however I think it’s a wider issue we see in Opposition that nobody ever looks to put together action plans until it comes to election time (when these policies were rolled out as an example). As I stated elsewhere, it is the perfect opportunity to instead of chipping away at the incumbent party, you actually lay down a strong vision that unites Australia together and act as a leader. No matter which party you talk about, I have not seen that in the last decade.

          You’ll probably disagree with me (welcome to preconceived bias in a discussion 😀 ), but that’s ok. I had fun reading through the greens policies for a bit and am happy to be proven wrong. Looks like I’ve got a shedload of homework before the next election!

          • Fair points all, thanks for taking the time! I’m actually not that big a Greens fan, more just strongly supporting transparent government and cutting down on the bullshit spin cycle. To me, the fact that they actively engaged with the independent government office to such an extent, while LNP and ALP did not, spoke volumes.

            I totally agree that election promises are worthless unless backed up by a feasible plan. I’m far from an expert in most of the details involved (hence why I’m talking politics on Kotaku :P) so I have to rely on the independent experts and avoid spin doctoring from any side. From what I’ve seen, the Greens are the only ones supporting that due diligence as well as having (mostly) laudable principles. I think there are certainly pros and cons with all LNP, ALP and Greens policies, but it’s grating to see people picking holes in the only ones that’ve opened themselves up for a sensible discussion.

            TBH I’d always thought of them as having good overall aims and guiding principles but lacking concrete plans until someone pointed out that costings list – it was an eye-opener for me so I thought it’d be remiss not to share here!

          • To use a tired phrase, it’s a step in the right direction 🙂

            I think it’s funny, almost this entire comments section on this article points to the fact everyone is pretty sick and tired of the bullshit from all sides hahaha. Must be Fridayitis 😉

            Again thanks for the link though. Always worth a read!

        • This isn’t directly aimed at you, more anyone who is responding to you.

          Everyone should stop themselves before they respond, go off and have a read about “costing election commitments” and then come back to discuss what has been presented. Not because I expect everyone to respond erroneously but because it seems like a damn good opportunity for everyone to increase their political literacy.

    • The impression I get from the majority of editors/contributors is they aren’t particularly fond of the LNP. Also Scott wrote the article specifically for Kotaku so there is that.

      Thanks for the link though, always good to see it’s on the radar for the various parties 🙂

    • Noting point on HuffPost vs. Kotaku. Thanks for posting, I hadn’t read it.

      On his article, Tehan is arguing that it’s not the Government’s job to invest in the industry though, he’s pushing for capital investment and touting the only responsibility Government has is to encourage said investment. To argue both sides …

      Practically, he may be right. Example: The lack of taxpayer $$$ for the Qantas bailout ultimately gave them the leverage to argue down the Unions and, in turn, renegotiate their debts, resulting in their mega profit last reporting period. Welcome back, Flying Kangaroo.

      Philosophically, he’s probably wrong. Example: The cessation of bailouts for the auto industry has ended its presence in Australia, period, and (perhaps) rightly so. We’re not “making” cars in Australia, we’re just “assembling” them.

      Games are different. When we invest in intellectual capital, particularly technical capital, we have the potential to lead innovation across sectors. Games have a huge potential to improve medical and engineering capability. Both of those have, for example, a military capability as well. There is a direct national and economic interest in Government investment, and it’s irresponsible to rely on ‘the market’ to set the pace here. Australian Tech IP should, fundamentally, be driven by innovation, not profit.

    • Dan wrote an article for a different media outlet, there is no reason Kotaku wouldn’t have run it if it was offered to them rather than the Huffington.
      That article is also very much targeted to a different audience and in my opinion doesn’t understand the industry situation in Australia. Asking to make it easier for Venture Capitalists to invest in games, the chances of getting a VC to pay for the development of a new game is so remote that it hardly warrants attention.
      The industry is to small and cottage based to have interest from investors. Perhaps if they had incentives for publishers to pickup games somehow then it might have some merit.

      Also it seems a little odd to be saying that we should be providing more support for the games industry when you have just ripped the biggest chunk of support they had out from under them.

  • If the animation is for a game, even a cutscene for a licensed film property game, no such incentives are offered. That’s carelessness rather than malice, and it’s easily fixed.

    If it’s “easily” fixed, then why hasn’t it been fixed? Theory: That getting old white men to agree on funding “childish pursuits” is not as easy as this claim would suggest. The solution may be “easy” to identify. Implementation of that solution won’t be.

    Example: I think gun violence is wrong. Easy fix. Get rid of all guns. Now I just need to get a part of the population that disagrees with me to accept this.

    • Mechanically easy, not politically easy.

      Some things might be political no-brainers, but difficult to figure out the delivery mechanism for.

      • i know, just like us finally getting and r18 classification for games, mechanically easy, but was down right retardly hard to implement because of political bullshit

    • The physical barrier to implementing the games solution is low. The political barrier is high.
      Guns are a different story. That’s a physical barrier to enforcement. They’re pretty different.

      Actually, now that I think about it, Japanese porn is in a similar situation. The government could remove the weird mosaic censoring law tomorrow. It wouldn’t be difficult and it would likely be met with a lot of public indifference or even positivity. But it would be a political mountain to climb. It’d be career suicide for anyone who tried to set it in motion.

  • This is all well and good but I think we’ve already missed the boat here. We don’t have the infrastructure for a start – until the NBN rolls out properly, and in the major population areas first (i.e. basically the opposite to what both the ALP and LNP have plans to do), we’re unlikely to attract anything other than very small indie outfits making mobile games. We’re putting the cart before the horse and standing it in the middle of a swamp. The industry will never grow without the infrastructure to support it, and the NBN is well and truly fucked because the LNP butchered it and the ALP used it as a political football. Tax concessions only do so much.

    Also when it comes to a popular vote, people will throw money at things we actually need – like healthcare – over the arts, especially one like video games. It’s sad for us as gamers but unless the industry can already prove it’s a big money maker here in Australia there’s not likely to be any major support. Trying to inject cash into a sector that barely exists isn’t going to accomplish too much.

    • The industry will never grow without the infrastructure to support it, and the NBN is well and truly fucked because the LNP butchered it and the ALP used it as a political football. Tax concessions only do so much.

      Damn spot on but there is one factor I’d like to add if I may.

      In this game (pun not intended) there is one player that people frequently forgot. You have the gamers (consumers), and the developers (producers) but for the most part there is a third, the publishers (distributors).

      And as it stands, the industry (not just in Australia) has degraded to the point where publishers have too much clout and are being allowed to become a law unto their own.

      They want Orwellian style monitoring of gamers because they seriously think piracy and second hand sales kill their cashflow.

      And they are only interested in Australia when the dollar is against us thus they get quality development but at a cheap price. When the dollar started to improve, publishers used the GFC as a front to pull out, closing their local studios and taking their earnings and jobs with them.

      This is why if someone ever reforms the tax system we should see less swifties like this.

      Trying to inject cash into a sector that barely exists isn’t going to accomplish too much.

      Sad but very true. And it’s not just gaming. Both sides treat basically anything to do with IT with contempt. If they can’t use it as a football to garner votes, then they kill it off.

      Look at WiFi and others. Not many know this but it was developed by the CSIRO and not taken seriously here in Australia and I doubt they got any help when Apple and others took the CSIRO to court when they tried to enforce their patents on WiFi.

      Overall, before even the most basic reform happens, there needs to be change in attitude on both sides. Because anything they offer will be like tap dancing on a huge bear trap with no warning that it is going to go off.

  • The Greens have a list of fully costed policies on their website. They’re the only party to have taken a fully costed policy platform to the last election.

    Admittedly, as a minority party, that’s about the most they can do and it’s not much more than talking – but at least you can see that it would work if they got in, and the more people take them seriously, the more likely they are to get to a position where they can make a difference. Unfortunately it’s a bit of a catch-22 otherwise.

  • Well more public discussion like this is exactly what we need to help get the ball rolling a bit faster. Good on Scotty for writing this, hopefully some more politicians or watchers of politics take note of this.

  • Politics aside, it’s good to see the community as it is and as divided as it can be (let’s face it, it’s as divided on some issues as it’s ever been in the last year or two compared to when division in gaming used to mean Sega vs Nintendo) growing and being inclusive of everyone. It has largely shaken off the ‘for kids’ tag that used to get leveled at anyone who plays games, mainly because the people who used to play games still do and are a lot older now. It won’t be long before more politicians enter the fray who are like Scott in being technologically connected and who’re aware of the games industry.

    The push for an R18 rating in games in this country wasn’t really pushed through, it was held up while one Attorney General who was stuck in the dark ages believed that, well I don’t know what he believed, but he opposed an R18 rating all the time which stopped it from being signed. As soon as he resigned, progress was relatively quick in passing it. Point is, as soon as some politicians who come from a time gone past technologically-wise retire, they will (hopefully) be replaced by more sympathetic people.

    Mind you, the LNP (in its current guise) is standing in the way of any advance in the technology sector across the board, not just video games. Renewal energy and the NBN are two areas they’ve put right back because they don’t have friends in those sectors. The problem is (and it’s a big problem), that the current crop of politicians aren’t in it for the public, they’re in it for their own personal gain.

    All that aside (turns out I couldn’t put politics aside), it’s insane how this country cannot put an insignificant amount of money aside for this industry compared to how much is thrown at mediocre film sequels to get people like Johnny Depp and his dogs into the country.

  • The previous Victorian Liberal Government is responsible for the growth of the industry in Victoria. The Andrews’ Labor Government has merely continued to fund it.

    Senator Ludlam conveniently neglected to mention this.

    • Not saying you are wrong, but got a link? I haven’t heard of this and to be frank, modern LNP seems very unlikely to be the ones pushing legislation like that through. It’s just not what modern right wing neo-con governance does.

      I’d be interested to see the how and the why.

        • Neo-Conservative governments in general don’t like spending money on things. There’s a reason the governments sell off assets and privatise necessary public works. It’s the same reason we no longer have free education, our universal healthcare is slowly but surely being eroded, and the 20 year hunt for the elusive but terrifying Dole Bludger has never stopped.
          Right wing politics in the English speaking world over the last 50 years have taken on increasingly Randian rhetoric, which includes a tendency to class any kind of government payment as A Bad Thing. Governments are increasingly run like businesses for profit and businesses that don’t like investing in long term profit. In Australia, both major parties have been guilty of this, but the LNP have really embraced it.

          So giving money to an industry that doesn’t already pour money into their coffers in the hope that it will become healthy and viable in the future is a bit out of character. Especially for the LNP. I’m pleasantly surprised.

          • Neoconservatism is primarily concerned with foreign policy. The neoliberal Liberal Party do generally promote privatisation of assets and, in general, laissez-faire economics, however there are examples of this from all sides of Australian politics (not just the centre-right).

            The fund seems to promote self-reliance within the industry; build it to a level where it can support itself and then (presumably) stop funding it.

          • I understand all of that. I acknowledged that it’s on both sides, but I don’t think it’s controversial to say that the LNP have (more than others) embraced not just laissaz-faire economics, but the American brand of lasseiz-faire when it suits them and protectionism when it doesn’t. Generally speaking, industries with a finger in the political pie (mining, traditional media and banking for example) enjoy protectionist policies like bailouts, joint projects with the government and content quotas. Other industries just don’t get the same attention. They are left with “the market” to decide if they are a worthwhile industry or not. Gaming has been pretty squarely in the “other” camp. The previous program to do exactly this was cut not too long ago. It’s surprising to see something similar brought back. It’s good.

            I don’t care who does it, but I want to see local industries with real potential being invested in.

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