Following several delays, the Australian Federal Government has set a deadline for the state attorney generals to decide on the possible introduction of an R18+ ratings category for video games.
“We’re becoming the laughing stock of the developed world, where we’re the only country that doesn’t have an R18 classification level for video games,” Brendan O’Connor, Home Affairs minister and recent champion of ratings overhaul, told ABC News
“I foreshadow that if there is not a consensus around this issue, the Commonwealth will certainly be considering other options because we cannot continue to have an outdated classification system that’s actually, in my view, causing harm to young people.”
After failing to reach consensus at a December 2010 meeting, Australia’s state attorney generals deferred the decision until their March meeting – but state elections in New South Wales meant no vote could be taken.
The attorney generals are set to meet again in June, but should they again fail to provide an answer, O’Connor intends to pursue the matter.
“I’m not going to let this matter end because it’s too important to allow one or two jurisdictions to stop the majority of jurisdictions in this country moving on an important reform,” he said, adding “But can I say my very strong preference is to have consensus around the table in July.”
O’Connor recently made a statement avowing his intention to see an R18+ category by mid 2011.
Australia’s classification system is much criticised for inconsistency and strictures which fail to meet international standards. Its lack of any category higher than MA15+ has left some games – the most recent being Mortal Kombat – legally unsellable.
In other cases, games have been edited for content, or successfully appealed and downgraded from Refused Classification to MA15+.