Australian TV censors have a whinge at a TV showing of softcore film Felicity
Just to note that all 18 rated films are banned from Australian free to air TV
Community television station WTV has come in for nutter flak after airing a cut version of an R18+ rated softcore sex film.
The 1978 film Felicity was promoted by its makers as a movie that follows the exploits of a sheltered teen as
she sheds her inhibitions and surrenders her blossoming body to a world of bold sexual adventure .
The film was rated R 18+ after censors believed i scenes of intercourse, implied fellatio, lesbian activity and dialogue were discreet
enough for restricted viewing.
WTV aired the film on October 22 last year at 9.30pm. The channel edited the film to cut particularly explicit scenes so the film could be classified as MA 15+.
The next day, a viewer complained to the station
that the film breached parts of the industry code of practice pertaining to detailed genital nudity in a sexual context, or depiction of sexual acts .
After receiving a response from the station the complainant took the matter to the
Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) ludicrously complaining that: This movie was pornographic in content and possibly displayed children under age 18 involved in sexual acts .
The ACMA ruled the AV 15+ classification,
relating to violent content, was an inappropriate rating. The authority also ruled that the station failed to make every reasonable effort to resolve the complaint .
WTV board member John Rapsey said the approval for release in 1978 was
evidence the film did not contain material considered child pornography.
Sex Party volunteers at a St Peter's Catholic Church polling booth have been ordered by the priest in charge of the venue to pull their posters down for most of a New South Wales polling day.
No other parties were ordered to take down their
Sex Party President Fiona Patten said the Catholic Church was being paid by the NSW Electoral Commission to hold the election in the Parish Hall and that included hosting signage on the property.
The actions of the church's representative in unfairly discriminating against the Sex Party for its political views, represents an offence under the Discrimination Act. He has also jeopardised our chances of getting a fair and legitimate vote at this booth which could constitute an offence under the Electoral Act. We will be pursuing this issue with the Electoral Commission on Monday and see what our options are, she said.
The Australian Government has launched a comprehensive review of the National Classification Scheme to be conducted by the Australian Law Reform Commission.
Attorney-General Robert McClelland has referred the Scheme to the Australian Law Reform
Commission and asked it to conduct widespread public consultation across the community and industry.
The Government today released the final terms of reference for the review of the National Classification Scheme following community consultation.
The review will consider issues including:
existing Commonwealth, State and Territory classification laws;
the current classification categories contained in the Classification Act, Code and Guidelines;
the rapid pace of technological change;
the need to improve
classification information available to the community;
the effect of media on children; and
the desirability of a strong content and distribution industry in Australia.
The Home Affairs Minister responsible for classification, Brendan O'Connor, said technology is fast moving and the review will examine how the classification can cater for further advances into the future.
lot has changed in recent years. Australians now access content through the Internet and mobile phones and that poses challenges for the existing classification scheme.
We're also seeing the convergence of different
technology platforms and the worldwide accessibility of some content, which also creates new concerns.
Australians need to be confident that our classification system will help them make informed choices about what
they choose to read, see, hear and play.
The appointment of a new ALRC Commissioner to work on the review will be announced shortly. The ALRC has been asked to provide its final report by 30 January 2012. See also
Terms of Reference [pdf] .
Last month, Federal Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor told GameSpot AU he has high hopes for resolving the R18+ issue by July this year, relying on a unanimous vote in favour of introducing the adult classification for video games at the upcoming
Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) meeting in Adelaide.
However, the question of what will happen to games currently rated MA15+ and Refused Classification (RC) has to date remained unanswered. Now, in an interview with GameSpot AU,
O'Connor has shed more light on the soon-to-be-finalised R18+ draft guidelines, saying that it would be unlikely that games that have been previously banned by the Classification Board of Australia would be reclassified into the R18+ category should the
new rating be introduced. What is far more likely to happen, according to O'Connor, is the reclassification of MA15+ titles as R18+ (with cuts waived).
What's in the proposed
guidelines? What do they say about a possible R18+ category and the current MA15+ category?
The guidelines reflect the following propositions: one, that we need to
allow for a set of classifications in games similar to those that we have in film; two, that we need to look at redefining the MA15+ category for games to make sure that games that are played by adults in other countries are not played by children in
Australia; three, that we need to look at what a new R18+ classification for games would mean; and finally, that we need to maintain the current Refused Classification (RC) classification. I have significant concerns about games that depict gratuitous
violence or sexual acts, and I want to make sure that the introduction of an R18+ classification would not allow such material into this country, or indeed any material that would offend a reasonable person.
refuse many games in Australia. But those games that are currently RC would most likely stay that way. The advice I have received is that it's far less likely that any game that has been RC would get into R18+ if the classification was introduced; it's
far more likely that MA15+ games will be reclassified and fit more suitably into R18+. Having said that, it may be that some games that did not make it into MA15+ may find themselves in a position to get into R18+, but as always, these matters are
entirely for the Classification Board. The reclassifying of MA15+ games would also mean that some of the modifications in current MA15+ games would no longer be necessary. My problem with these modifications and changes in MA15+ games is that it does not
matter if the game has been modified to fit within the current MA15+ guidelines: the content itself is still adult and should not be allowed to be accessed by minors. At the moment, parents see the MA15+ sticker and think that it's some sort of signal
that the game in question is suitable for anyone under the age of 18, which means 12- and 13-year-olds are playing these games. This has to stop. It's time for our classification system to grow up.
The South Australian Government has proposed a law that will ban the uploading of footage of assaults or harassment where those subjected to that activity do not consent, as part of its ongoing jihad against online publishing and commentary.
The proposed law, that is claimed by the Government to be aimed at preventing people planning assaults and filming them, would deny journalists and citizens in South Australia the right to upload to the internet (previously) legally obtained footage
taken in a public space unless the alleged victim approves its online distribution.
The same restrictions will not apply to traditional media (specifically in the case of video: television stations.) but it's not clear whether a television station
(or newspaper) uploading video to their website would also be affected by the law.
There have been a several incidents of videoed violence involving school children in Australia in the last twelve months, and few would condone kids attacking other
kids, filming it and uploading it to YouTube. However these incidents are few and far between, and don't require the introduction of draconian censorship to stop them.
In trying to stop these rare incidents of videoed violence, the South
Australian Government wishes to take away the rights of the overwhelming majority of people online who do not undertake such activities. As it is a legal right still to take a picture in a public place, so it should remain a legal right to take
video in a public place and to publish that video as you see fit, be that online or elsewhere. It's a fundamental freedom in a free society, a point lost on the South Australian Government.
A better solution would be to introduce penalties for
those filming assaults where the person filming the assault is proven to have been involved in the planning and execution of the assault.
The chairman of Australia's federal government inquiry into outdoor advertising says if tougher rules are needed, the possibilities include ratings by the Film Classification Board.
The Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) is
gearing up for a fight. It said any kind of classification system for outdoor advertisements would add an unnecessary and burdensome layer of compliance .
The AANA's chief executive, Scott McClellan, said the present system of
self-regulation was the most efficient, flexible and cost-effective means of ensuring that advertising continued to meet community expectations.
But the chairman of the government inquiry, Graham Perrett, said while the AANA had some good
guidelines in place, not everyone who put up an ad was a member of the AANA and there were plenty of cowboys in the industry: Not every billboard you see goes through those checks and balances. Some advertisers push the boundaries to get
Perrett said because outdoor advertising spanned federal, state and local jurisdictions, regulation was complex but not impossible. He said theoretically the Film Classification Board could classify billboards.
the inquiry aimed to report back to the government by the end of June, following public hearings in Sydney and Melbourne.
Meanwhile, the AANA is reviewing its code of ethics.
Australia's Federal Government is giving the states and territories until July to agree to a new R18+ classification for video games.
Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor forcefully said: We're the only country that allows tens and tens of
games to be used by minors that are only used by adults overseas . We're becoming the laughing stock of the developed world.
O'Connor said the issue had been debated by the attorneys-general for the past 10 years and it was time to make
He wants consensus from the states and territories when they meet in July and if they do not agree, he tips the Federal Government will go it alone: If there is not a consensus around this issue, the Commonwealth will certainly be
considering other options.
Mortal Kombat remains banned in Australia after an unsuccessful appeal against the ban. The appeal board released a statement:
A four-member panel of the Classification Review Board has by majority decision
determined that the computer game Mortal Kombat is classified RC (Refused Classification).
In the Review Board's opinion, Mortal Kombat could not be accommodated within the MA15+ classification as the level of violence
in the game has an impact which is higher than strong. As MA15+ is the highest classification category available to computer games under the Australian Classification Scheme, the Classification Review Board must refuse classification to Mortal Kombat.
Computer games classified RC cannot be sold, hired, advertised or demonstrated in Australia.
In 2007, Herald Sun writer, Keith Moor presented an article about G Media [abbywinters.com] which aimed to blow the whistle on the adult film production corporation. The article utilised such terminology and descriptive phrasing as young women
, naivety of young women , manipulating them to perform explicit sex acts , young impressionable women and immoral and exploitation of the young at its worst .
On 15 June 2009, G Media was raided on alleged claims
of a breach of fifty four counts of making objectionable films for gain, one count of possessing a commercial quantity of objectionable films and two charges of possessing child pornography.
Many of the initial charges were dropped. However,
Garion Hall (CEO) subsequently plead guilty to charges of possessing a commercial quantity of objectionable films it intended selling or exhibiting and producing an objectionable film in Victoria .
The issue was raised again in the
media during 2009 while a subsequent trial in 2010 saw G Media targeted by two former models, Blaire and Melita . They claimed that the company was exploiting them and other nude models .
When analysing the sentence
administered to G Media, the underlying subtext of moral debate is evidentiary. Hall pleaded guilty to charges of production and possession, and was subsequently charged on 28 May 2010. He received a $6000 fine.
The charges were significantly less
than the original accusations. However, one can presume that the relatively-insignificant fine was swayed somewhat by Hall's statement of intentions to vacate Victoria (and indeed the country), by moving the company to Amsterdam.
Note the Australian censorship doesn't provide a cuts list. They just refuse the certificate with a bit of explanation. The distributors just have to guess
what they need to cut from the boards comments and then submit it again
In November 2010, the Australian Classification Board banned the 99 minute uncut version of A Serbian Film.
Distributors Accent then prepared a 97-minute censored version that they hoped would achieve the desired R18+. The
Classification Board had other ideas, and in late February banned the cut version.
Note that the UK version runs at about 95 minutes, having suffered 4 minutes of BBFC cuts.
Despite the ban the Board did acknowledge that it was closer
to a certificate:
... modifications have lessened the impact of some scenes to a level which is at the upper limit of the R18+ classification, this film contains depictions of explicit sexual violence as well as
prolonged depictions of violence with a very high degree of impact.
Australian Home Affairs minister Brendan O'Conner has revealed proposed new laws to Parliament to allow the censorship of apps and games sold online.
Technically the Classification Board should review every app, but because of the sheer size of
the app store -- it contains hundreds of thousands of apps -- it is simply impossible to do so because of a lack of resources.
O'Conner says instead of having the Classification Board review every single app, the Government will use the online
content system which in based on ratings provided by the store. The store allows users to complain about offensive material. Only apps that receive complaints will be subject to review by the Australian Censorship Board.
If Apple, or any other
marketplace provider such as Google, continued to sell content that is refused classification then they would be breaking the law, O'Conner said: We would prosecute people who actually broke the law . People cannot [be allowed to] break the
law. People cannot at the moment sell, distribute or watch... games that have been refused classification.
App makers say it would be too cumbersome. MoGeneration chief executive Keith Ahern says the current system within the App Store is
working well: The current system is probably more effective than anything the Government can introduce. So maybe the bigger question is, how does the App Store set this? I would say that system has been partly responsible for the success of the app
Warner Brothers is appealing a ban on one of the most anticipated game releases of the year, Mortal Kombat .
Earlier this week it was revealed that the Classification Board had banned Mortal Kombat due to its violent gameplay.
Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment Australia said it had decided to appeal to the Classification Review Board over the Mortal Kombat decision. It refuses to budge and submit a cut version of the game, arguing
that wouldn't be Mortal Kombat .
After reviewing both the game play and the Board's original decision WBIE Australia believe the violence in the game is on par with numerous other titles readily available for sale in the Australian
As such the company wants to exhaust all options to make the game available to Mortal Kombat fans in this country. An identical version of the game will be submitted for appeal.
Warner Bros. said it was considering
hiring Classification Board ex-deputy director Paul Hunt to help in its appeal. Hunt now runs his own consultancy, MLCS Management, and has previously helped overturn the banning of other titles by Australian censors including F.E.A.R. 2: Project
Origin and Aliens vs Predator.
FamilyVoice Australia have again petitioned the Federal Court to ban Pier Paolo Pasolini's Salo, Or The 120 Days Of Sodom again. They are claiming that its release last year on DVD was an improper exercise of power by the Classification Review
The Christian activists led by the Not So Liberal senator Julian McGauran, have got Salo banned in Australia for most of the last 36 years.
Salo follows a group of young men and women abducted by fascists and subjected to rape,
torture and death in an Italian palace. Described by the board as a serious study of corruption which accompanies the exercise of absolute power , the film was released last year in a boxed set with additional documentary features that the
board thought would mitigate the level of potential community offence .
But this did not impress Senator McGauran and FamilyVoice Australia. They moved against the film again, this time in the courts.
The barrister Anthony Tudehope
accused the board of a long list of failings when judging the film, in particular the failure to separately identify and assess elements of violence, cruelty and fetishes - even bestiality, though Salo contains no congress with animals.
questioned the age of the victims and the actors playing them. Along with a minority of the Classification Review Board, he argued they are children being subjected to child sexual abuse, which was simply not acceptable , he told the court.
But that was not the view of a majority of the board, which found Pasolini's victims clearly sexually mature and that their fate at the hands of the fascists would not offend reasonable adults given the context, purpose and stylised, detached
cinematic techniques of the film.
The board's solicitor, Nick Gouliaditis, denied any failures of process in Salo's release. He told the court that assessing the merits of a film required highly subjective judgments which the
Classification Review Board has been entrusted to make .
Justice Margaret Stone has reserved her decision for a later date.
A prominent Tasmanian alderman David Traynor was convicted of possessing child-exploitation material after he downloaded and saved a copy of The Pearl from a website.
It is a 130 year old novel widely available throughout the world and
is freely available from bookshops and major online retailers.
The Pearl by Anonymous - based on a pornographic periodical from 1879-1880 - was most recently published in 2009 by major publisher Harper Collins.
The Pearl was one of almost
10,000 pieces of pornographic material stored on Traynor's Clarence City Council-issued laptop. However, none of the other material was found to contain child exploitation material, the Mercury reports.
The computer, which had been stolen, was
recovered by police in mid-2009. A forensic specialist retrieved pornographic material that had been deleted.
Police charged Traynor on the basis the Victorian-era periodical contains explicit accounts of sex between grown men and girls as young
as 12 - which was the age of consent in London when the stories were first printed.
No reference was made in the court hearing to the fact the book is available in bookshops.
Australian Lawyers Alliance director Greg Barns said if The Pearl
constituted child pornography then so would many works of art.
This case raises interesting questions about whether or not people who own or who download works of art or literature which depict underage persons in a sexual way are charged with
criminal offences, he said.
Traynor received a two-year good-behaviour bond and will be placed on the sex offenders' register.
A party game for the Wii, We Dare , has been given an Australian PG rating even though the game promotes spanking, stripping and sexual partner swapping.
The Australian Christian Lobby said the We Dare decision showed the classification
system was broken . Even the game's publisher, Ubisoft, says the game is intended for an adult audience. Ubisoft had recommended it be rated M.
The Classification Board has defended its decision. It said that despite We Dare
encouraging players to engage in spanking, striptease and other risqué mini-games, the visuals on the screen itself are cartoony and tame. The Classification Board is only able to classify games based on the content displayed on screen, not what
people do in their living rooms. The Board said: At the PG classification, discreetly implied sexual activity is permitted if justified by context and where the level of impact does not exceed 'mild'.
The Australian Christian Lobby said the
game encouraged players to engage in sexual activity not suitable for a child. It said it hoped loopholes in the classification system would be closed following this year's classification review by the Australian Law Reform Commission.
Australian Christian Lobby said the game encouraged players to engage in sexual activity not suitable for a child. It said it hoped loopholes in the classification system would be closed following this year's classification review by the Australian Law
Reform Commission. Parents can have no faith in a classification system when these loopholes are present, said ACL spokesman Lyle Shelton.
The console game Mortal Kombat has been banned in Australia.
The censors said that the game was 'Refused Classification'.
Warner Brothers said:
The highly anticipated video game Mortal
Kombat, published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (WBIE) in Australia, has been refused classification by the Australian Classification Board and will not release in Australia. We are extremely disappointed that Mortal Kombat , one
of the world's oldest and most successful video games franchises, will not be available to mature Australian gamers. WBIE would not market mature content where it is not appropriate for the audience. We understand that not all content is for every
audience, but there is an audience for mature gaming content and it would make more sense to have the R18+ classification in Australia. As a member of the iGEA, WBIE is reviewing all options available at this time.
CEO of the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association had this to say:
The granting of another RC to a video game clearly designed and targeted at ADULTS again highlights the shortcomings of the current
classification scheme. In particular, the absence of an adult classification.
And indeed the BBFC, with a complete range of age classifications avaialbale, passed the game 18 uncut with the comment: Contains strong bloody violence.
Update: Decapitations, dismemberment and spraying blood
Australia's Government censorship
board said that the game contains excessive levels of violence, and is unsuitable for a minor to see or play, specifically citing more than 60 death scenes, with graphic images of decapitations, dismemberment and spraying blood .
the exaggerated conceptual nature of the fatalities and their context within a fighting game set in a fantasy realm, impact is heightened by the use of graphics which are realistically rendered and very detailed.
The Australian Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O'Connor has told GameSpot AU that he wants to resolve the issue of Australia's lack of an adult classification for video games by July this year. With the absence of New South Wales Attorney-General John
Hatzistergos from the upcoming SCAG meeting in March preventing ministers from taking a vote on the R18+ for games issue, O'Connor hopes to use the time to dispel any concerns and discuss in detail the soon-to-be-finalized R18+ guidelines.
O'Connor believes that the inquorate March SCAG meeting will still be a good opportunity for ministers to take a closer look at the new guidelines presented and come to a more concrete decision on how to proceed with the R18+ issue. The vote to introduce the guidelines will also be the vote that introduces R18+, something O'Connor is planning for the July SCAG meeting.
O'Connor told Gamespot that: the Commonwealth's position is that we need an R18+ classification for video games in this country. This is a sound argument insofar as doing the right thing and protecting minors; it is also a reasonable argument
as it allows for adults to access material that is accessible by other adults in other countries; and it fits in with evolving changes in technology. So, [R18+ for games] is good public policy, and that's what I'll continue to say to people.
Last December Australian attorney generals unanimously agreed to draft a set of preliminary guidelines for the introduction of an R18+ classification for video games in Australia.
Now, it appears the decision to introduce R18+ for games once and
for all will once again be delayed. This time, the culprit is the upcoming New South Wales state elections, which will be held on Saturday, March 26. The NSW attorney general's department has confirmed to GameSpot AU that NSW Attorney General John
Hatzistergos will not be attending the next meeting on March 4 because of the proximity of the election and will therefore be unable to partake in any voting process. Because any decision regarding R18+ requires all state, territory, and federal
attorneys general to vote and reach a unanimous decision, it will be impossible for any voting to take place.
Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland and Justice Minister Brendan O'Connor have announced a shake-up of censorship law in Australia through a review of the 1995 Classification Act.
determines where the line is drawn on various categories and forms of media. It legislates different levels of intensity and explicitness in images and words, setting out what can be accessed by various age groups in Australia. It designates
whether different media can be viewed in private (for example by a couple in their home) or in public, such as at a movie theatre.
The Classification Act is primarily concerned with what we commonly call entertainment,
news and information. More than any other federal act, its success relies on accurately gauging public opinion, and it is one of the main pieces of legislation that defines Australian morality .
government is asking the Australian Law Reform Commission to undertake the review, with submissions being sought throughout this year.
It will be unable to report to the government until at least mid-2012 and the
government most likely won't be able to act on the recommendations until 2013 -- close to another federal election. Hence it could be 2014 before this review bears any fruit.
At the same time, there are four other
reviews of the Classification Act, or aspects of it, being undertaken by various agencies.
In an appalling waste of resources, the Senate committee on legal and constitutional affairs has also announced an inquiry
into the Australian film and literature classification scheme .
Melbourne Film Festival director Richard Wolstencroft says he is now considering his options, in the latest instalment of a saga over the screening of a banned film.
In August 2010, Wolstencroft organised a screening of Bruce LaBruce's LA
Zombie . In November, police raided his house, looking for copies of the film, and a police spokeswoman confirmed that he would face court.
In the latest development Wolstencroft said:.
Last Thursday, I
was informed that I had a summons to pick up at my local police station. Attached to the summons was a diversion notice, agreeing to settle the matter without a felony on my record and with a donation to charity.
said that he was thinking through the implications of the diversion notice, which is a procedure intended to divert mainly first-time offenders from the criminal justice system.
There is one thing Jim Wallace of the so-called Australian Christian Lobby got right in his attack on ratings reform: When it comes to protecting children and community standards, the authorities are asleep at the
Unfortunately, it's the delaying tactics relied on by out-of-touch members of the Fundamentalist Right that have had that result.
The issue in question is finally
removing the loophole in the classification of interactive entertainment (in the main, computer and video games) that forces content designed for adults into the rating category appropriate for 15 year olds – either with no, or very minor changes.
The unavoidable flipside of our rating system being unable to distinguish between adults and children because the distinction is not available, is not only that adults are treated as children – it's that children are treated as adults.
The only way to treat children differently from adults is, obviously, to have an adult rating – as we have had, for a long time, in most other media.
Hence the campaign for an R18 rating,
a sensible reform that will help parents know which games their kids should and absolutely should not be playing.
It's not about saving Australian jobs in the sector presently seriously undermined by our out-dated
classification system – although it will certainly do that. It's not about recognising that the average gamer is now in his or her 30s, and an increasing proportion of the content created in this medium is made by adults, for adults, not children
– although that's true. It's not about the fact that restricting adults to the same content as teenagers is nanny-state censorship (cue the sadly appropriate Mark Twain quote about censorship being telling a man he can't have a steak just
because a baby can't chew it ) – although it is.
Most importantly, this reform is about protecting our children – and giving parents the tools they need.
Which is why
80% of Australians support it.
And yet, in December, instead of finally implementing this exhaustively-researched, long-investigated and not-particularly-complicated common sense reform, the nation's Attorneys-General
baulked. They ordered a year-long review instead, putting more kids at risk in the meantime.
Jim Wallace apparently thinks it's the video of supposedly R18-style content
that was shown to the politicians that made them accede to his lobby's demands for further delay. Maybe they'd never seen an R18 film before, and were surprised when the adult content designed for adults and for whom an adult rating is sought was, well,
adult. Not appropriate for minors. Conflicting reports suggest it might not have been the video put out by the censorship advocates (which tends to include material that would NEVER be rated R18 in Australia anyway) so it would not have been any worse
than content we already see at video libraries around the country.
Which begs the question – why maintain the loophole?
Wallace, who was ghoulish enough on this page last week
to rhetorically link the adult content he dislikes with the Tucson shootings, thinks what we play has more of an effect than what we watch, by virtue of its interactivity. He doesn't present any evidence for this claim – not even the
cherry-picked studies from dodgy no-name American universities on whom his colleagues tend to rely.
But that's because, in reality, it's besides the point. If – and that's a big if – interactive
media were shown to have more of an effect, then that would be an argument for tailoring the classification guidelines for each rating category – not for refusing to distinguish between kids and adults. If what's appropriate for an adult in film is
not appropriate for an adult in games, then that would be a reason to have tougher guidelines for games than films – not to claim that what's appropriate for an adult is appropriate for a 15 year old. Which is what having no R18 rating does.
Nobody here is seriously suggesting extreme, dangerous content that really requires banning full stop should be made available for adults. Nobody is suggesting a free-for-all: when R18 is eventually implemented, extreme
content will still be refused classification, just as it is now with films.
Jim Wallace is fighting the wrong battle – he should be arguing about what content he thinks that an R18 rating should permit, not
whether it should exist or not.
Because the one thing we should all be able to agree on is that adults and children are different. That children deserve to have their innocence protected from the things that are
appropriate for adults.
And any sensible classification system would recognise that simple fact, with an adult, not-for-kids classification.
It is long since time that ours did.
A further year's delay is absurd, and lets down every Australian family.
SCAG [Australia's attorney generals, the politicians in charge of censorship] has probably been the most conservative cross party grouping of senior politicians ever to exist in Australia. The recent changes have altered nothing.
Rob Hulls has exited on behalf of Victoria and he has been replaced by an out Christian, Robert Clark. John Rau has replaced the high Anglican Michael Atkinson in SA and Christian Porter is the newbie for WA. The conservative Christian A-G
in NSW, John Hatzistagos, who recently became the first ever A-G to give police censorship powers, is unfortunately still there although he will be removed at the next NSW state election in March. But don't hold your breath that the new NSW Liberal A-G
will be any better because it will be yet another born again Christian - Greg Smith. So why is that men of religious persuasion get such a good run on SCAG? Where are all the civil libertarian Attorneys like Lionel Murphy, Gareth Evans and Daryl Williams
The 80% of Australians who supported an R rating in the polls should be pretty concerned that before their last meeting on games, SCAG allowed the Australian Christian Lobby's, Jim Wallace to address them on the issue.
They also allowed another anti games campaigner, Dr Elizabeth Handley to address them.
When I tried to address SCAG a few years ago on censorship issues I was told that the group did not entertain lobbyists of any
kind. Clearly things have changed and now if you represent a Christian view you get in. This represents an appalling misuse of power and engages Australia's Attorney's General in discriminatory behaviour which could well be illegal if it was someone else
doing it. If SCAG wants to be seen as discharging their duties to the people of Australian in a fair and unbiased way then they must now invite lobbyists from the gamers and adult industry to address them at their next meeting.
Despite this argument being run strongly in the lead-up to last December's meeting of censorship ministers, they baulked at lifting the bar on R18+ computer games when they were shown video of the sort of material such a rating
would allow into Australia.
Members of the public supposedly expressing overwhelming support in opinion polls for lifting the ban of extreme interactive computer game violence might also baulk if they too could see
what the State and Federal Attorneys General saw.
It was very clear to me that the great majority of AGs were in a state of bemusement that anyone could want to make or play many of these games and particularly those
proposed for an R18+ rating, and many said so.
It is clear that the meeting failed to get support for the R18 classification as a result.
The R18+ issue is a big one – for gamers – but is it symptomatic of a larger classification issue? We speak to Home Affairs Minister Brendan O' Connor, former Deputy Director of the Classification Board Paul Hunt, and
CEO of the iGEA Ron Curry about the upcoming review of the classification system and what it means for an adult rating for video games.
Within this broad media spectrum is the humble video game, and the ever-present
spectre of the R18+ rating. To gamers – and the majority of the Australian public – an R18+ rating for video games is a proverbial no-brainer, but underlying this problem is a much grander one: how do we classify the unclassifiable? How does
the current system manage the incredible burden brought upon by the constant influx of new content: iPhone Apps, video games, video content, movies, Android apps, etc, etc.
Simple put: it can't. Times have changed, and
the amount of content being consumed in Australia has increased rapidly over the last decade.
It has become increasingly clear, claimed Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor, in a statement released last month,
that the system of classification in Australia needs to be modernised so it is able to accommodate developments in technology now and in the future.