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 Australia Censorship News

 2011: July-Sept



30th September   

Update: Creepy Crawly Politician...

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Australian Attorney General asks film censor's Review Board to reconsider the R18+ awarded to The Human Centipede 2
Link Here  full story: Human Centipede...Hype spreads mouth to arse

human centipede part ii Australia's Sex Party has tweeted that the New South Wales Attorney general has asked for the film censor's Review Board to reconsider the uncut R18+ certificate previously awarded to The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence).

 

26th September   

Update: Ban Judged to be Overkill...

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Australian censors un-ban The House of the Dead Overkill on appeal
Link Here  full story: Banned Games in Australia...Adult games ban

House Dead Overkill Extended Cut House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut has been re-classified MA15+ on appeal.

A three member panel of the Classification Review Board has by unanimous decision determined that the computer game should be classified MA 15+ with the consumer advice strong horror violence, strong coarse language .

The decision overturns the ban imposed by the Film Classification Board. The Review Board convened in response to an application from Sega Australia Pty Ltd, to review the decision made by the Classification Board on 23 August 2011 for the computer game House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut. The Board classified the computer game RC (Refused Classification).

For perspective, the game was passed 18 uncut by the UK censors of the BBFC.

Update: Review Board Reasoning

5th November 2011. See article from refused-classification.com

The review board outlined their decision as follows:

It is the view of the Review Board that the violence in this computer game, occurring in a familiar fighting game format, is stylised, unrealistic and graphically relatively unsophisticated compared to other computer games available in the Australian market. Given the fantasy theme of zombie horror and the characteristics of that genre, the violence, although frequent, is justified by context. The zombies and mutants themselves and most of the combat action involving them is lacking in realistic detail and occurs at a distance rather than in close up. The zombies and mutants are visually homogeneous and with a couple of exceptions that are individually grotesque, are not humanised. Victims and blood and gore disappear within seconds from the game. The settings in Bayou City are stylised and not realistic. It is therefore the opinion of the Review Board that the cumulative impact of the violence in the game is no higher than strong and as noted above, is justified by the fantasy zombie horror, rail shooter context.

In addition, the game contains frequent strong, coarse language which is not aggressive and is used conversationally. The cumulative impact of this language is no higher than strong.

As the impact of both the violence and the language in House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut is strong, the game is not suitable for persons under the age of 15.

 

21st September   

Government 'Protocol Officer'...


Nice 'n' Naughty

Government censor whinges at TV skit featuring prime minister Julia Gillard
Link Here

gillard under flagAustralia's national broadcaster is facing calls for a funding review after a TV comedy showed a fictional prime minister Julia Gillard draped in the national flag after having sex on her office floor.

Conservative opposition MPs said the ABC had overstepped the mark with a scene in which actors playing Ms Gillard and her partner Tim Mathieson cuddled naked and used the flag as a sheet.

Gillard has laughed off the controversy, but a government protocol officer said obliquely that the national flag should not have been shown on the ground.

 

20th September   

Update: Collective Nutters...

A group called Collective Shout claim responsibility for a rating review for A Serbian Film that lead to its ban
Link Here  full story: A Serbian Film...Hype for the most 'outrageous' horror yet

collective shout logoNew nutters on the block, Collective Shout describe themselves as a new grassroots campaigns movement mobilising and equipping individuals and groups to target corporations, advertisers, marketers and media which objectify women and sexualise girls to sell products and services.

They have also claimed that it was they who called for a review of the R18+ certificate for A Serbian Film. This review led to the R18+ certificate being revoked and for it to be banned instead.

Other groups to have supported Collective Shout in their action are Children of Phoenix and Kids Free 2B Kids

 

19th September   

Update: Political Appeal...

Australia's Review Board re-bans A Serbian Film
Link Here  full story: A Serbian Film...Hype for the most 'outrageous' horror yet

Serbian Film DVD Srdjan Spasojevic Director Srdjan Spasojevic's controversial psychosexual thriller A Serbian Film has been re-banned on appeal by Australia's Classification Review Board.

The CRB will release an official statement later, but their decision overrules the Film Classification Board who passed a cut version with an R18+ rating.

The film's distributor, Accent Films, tweeted:

A SERBIAN FILM has been refused classification by the Classification Review Board. That's democracy, right? What's next, a media inquiry???

And again a little later:

BTW, we have a great relationship with Classification Board. This is really not their doing. It's political.

The film was initially banned by the Classification Board in November 2010. Accent shaved two minutes off the running time, re-submitted it for classification, and it was banned again in February. A second censored version was passed in April and release on DVD in August in every state except South Australia, where it was banned by the state's Classification Council.

Nutter controversy about the film had prompted the Federal Government via Justice Minister Brendan O'Connor to ask the national film classification board to review its decision to allow the film into Australia.

Crikey writes:

One of the side effects of the CRB's decision is that it detracts from the organisation as a reputable decision-making body. To give the film a green light one week, and rescind that decision three weeks later, with potentially significant effects on the stores that bought copies and the distributor which supplied them, sends a message that our classification system is fickle and inconsistent.

 

19th September   

An Inappropriate Sister...

Australian town censors art critical of dolphin slaughter in Japan
Link Here

adrian dwyerA censorship row has erupted in Western Australia after a painting depicting the slaughter of dolphins at Taiji in Japan was excluded from the Shinju Matsuri festival art awards over fears it would offend Broome's Japanese sister town and local Japanese community.

Adrian Dwyer said he was told on the day of the awards that his painting would be withdrawn because Broome wanted to mend its sister city relationship which was fractured in 2009 after an outcry over Taiji's annual dolphin slaughter. He said the move was upsetting and offensive .

The Shire of Broome bowed to international and local pressure to suspend its sister association with Taiji until it stopped killing dolphins. Two months later, a backlash from the local Japanese community in Broome prompted the council to reverse its decision and apologise to Taiji.

Shinju Matsuri president Jillian Philp, who made the decision to withdraw Dwyer's painting, said:

The artwork was insulting to local families and was removed out of respect for the festival. It took a lot for me to withdraw the painting; I am an artist myself ...BUT... I am responsible for the festival community. It was a difficult decision that was not made lightly. The painting was unnecessary, violent and inappropriate.

Taiji is our sister city; we have done a lot of work repairing the damage and we have only just got the door open. To have that painting would have been completely inappropriate.

 

17th September   

All Mod Cons...

Australian film censors get new 53 seat 3D cinema
Link Here

Australian Film Classification BoardThe Australian Classification Board has opened a new cinema capable of screening 3D films. The 53-seat cinema will enable the board to review 2D and 3D digital films on its own premises.

This is a very important facility, Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Conner said at the cinema's opening. This cinema will complement and build upon existing technologies in the classification of films. It will ensure the board has the right facilities.

 

15th September   

Update: Spicks and Specks...

Apple censors name of Australian TV quiz show
Link Here  full story: iPhone iCensor...Apple is censorial about apps for iPhone

spicks and specks advertSpicks and Specks is an Australian TV quiz show that takes its name from a Bee Gee's song.

But their inevitable Phone app has been censored after Apple deemed the title was racist.

The game has topped the iTunes entertainment app charts, but the computer giant lists the shows as S***ks and Specks Quiz for fear of appearing offensive. Americans use the word spick as a racist insult for Latin American people.

ABC has asked iTunes to reconsider its decision. A spokesman said: iTunes is a US-based platform and it automatically censors words which are considered accidentally offensive in America. We've asked Apple to review it for the Australian audience.

 

14th September   

Offsite: Child Victims of Child Protection Law...

There's no shame in teenage sextual relations
Link Here  full story: Sexting...Persecuting youngsters for their own pictures

Big Porn Inc Exposing Industry Under Commonwealth law, teenagers under age 18 who consensually photograph and send images of their own bodies in nude, sexualised poses can be charged with production and distribution of child pornography. Anyone to whom they send those images can be charged with possession of child pornography, even if the sender of the image intended for them to have it.

In NSW the age of consent is 16. This means a 17-year-old girl can legally have sex with her boyfriend (or girlfriend) but if she films it, or if she photographs her own breasts and sends that image to her partner, she can be prosecuted under Commonwealth law. Understandably teenagers find it difficult to comprehend this legal inconsistency and there are some serious questions to be raised.

...Read the full article

 

13th September   

First of Many?...

Minor Australian party inevitably calls for all internet porn to be restricted to the new .XXX domain
Link Here

family first australia logoThe minor Australian political party, Family First, has called for porn sites to be banished to the new .xxx domain.

Triple-X domain names went on sale for the first time last week, allowing adult businesses to register their trademark under an official adult domain (or for other businesses to prevent anyone else using the xxx variant of their web address).

Dennis Hood, Family First's leader in South Australia, told news.com.au there was no good reason why adult businesses should continue to operate under a .com address:

Family First strongly believe the government should legislate to require all adult internet sites to move over to a .xxx domain so that children will be able to be safe online

If they're as serious about child safety online as they claim then this must be done without delay.

A spokesperson for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said X18+ content was already banned and could not be hosted on Australian-based websites. The Government could not legislate to force overseas content to move to a .xxx domain, the spokesperson said:

Further, the Australian Government has actively opposed .xxx because .xxx would not assist the community in avoiding adult content. It is likely that adult sites would simply be replicated on .xxx rather than replacing existing sites.

 

9th September   

Offsite: A Guessing Game...

Speculating if current MA15+ games will be reclassified as the new R18+ and whether currently banned games can be unbanned
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

r18 unbannedAustralia has received the green-light for an R18+ rating for video games, but many people are still unsure of what this means for them as gamers. Will this lead to MA15+ games being bumped up into the R18+ category? Will formerly Refused Classification games suddenly make it through with an R18+ rating? We looked into the Classification Act to find out.

The information provided here is based on current legislation and does not take into account what might change in the future. We also spoke with a former member of The Classification Board for some background information.

If a game has just been classified and it received an MA15+ rating when it really should have received an R18+ rating, will the introduction of the R18+ bump it from an MA15+ game to an R18+ game?

If a game has been Refused Classification, can it be re-submitted for classification when we receive an R18+ rating?

...Read the full article

 

6th September   

Update: Recommended by the BBFC...

Australian trailer for Human Centipede Part 2 glories in ban justifying accolades by the BBFC
Link Here  full story: Human Centipede...Hype spreads mouth to arse

human centipede 2 trailer video The BBFC justification for banning Human Centipede Part 2 has been used with great effect to form a teaser trailer for its uncut showing in Australia.

Perhaps it will start a trend and that all countries will follow suit and have a bit of fun at the expense of the BBFC.

 

5th September   

Update: Chastised...

Family Voice Australia fail in their court challenge to overturn the R18+ certificate awarded to Salo
Link Here  full story: Salo in Australia...End of long time ban on Pasolini's film

Salo Blu ray Pier Paolo Pasolini The nutter group Family Voice Australia has failed in their court action challenging the Review Board's decision to grant Salo an R18+ certificate. They contended that the film censorship appeal board somehow failed to follow its own guidelines.

The Federal Court did not seem very impressed by the Family Voice case and ordered that:

1. The application be dismissed.
2. The applicant (Family Voice Australia) pay the second respondent's costs.

The crux of the decision seems to be that: " The legislative framework entrusts the task of classifying the film to the Board not to the courts", as explained by the court:

As the Review Board itself recognised, the decisions with which it is charged under the Act, the Code and the Guidelines involve the exercise of discretion and judgment. These are matters on which, in all good faith, informed minds may differ. The difference between the majority and minority views concerning Salo testify to this. It is, however, irrelevant whether the Court agrees with the Board's decision or would decide the matter differently. The legislative framework entrusts the task of classifying the film to the Board not to the courts.

The function of the court is more limited. In Brown v Classification Review Board (1998) 82 FCR 225 French J, as the Chief Justice then was, observed at 240:

The function of this Court upon an application for judicial review is to decide whether the Board has acted in accordance with the law. It is not to substitute its own assessment of the publication for that of the Board. Nor should it seek to judicialise the process of administrative decision making by imposing rigorous standards of detailed explanation.

 

5th September   

Offsite: Having a Say...

The touchy topic of Australia's classification system
Link Here  full story: Australian Censorship Review... Reviewing censorship law for all media

ross fitzgeraldjpgClearly many Australians want to have their opinions heard on how, in the foreseeable future, official censorship in this country will be administered. The proof of that is that the Australian Law Reform Commission has received a record 2451 submissions to its inquiry into Australia's Classification Scheme.

About 10per cent of respondents were from industry groups who use the scheme to derive an income, while another 10per cent were from morals groups keen on restricting material they deem unworthy. Only about 1per cent of submissions were from civil-liberty groups who were trying to increase the amount of material available to the public. The rest of the submissions were from individuals with a wide variety of motives.

The morals and religious groups relied heavily on claims of being offended by certain material. They allege that certain types of information and entertainment are intrinsically offensive, in the same way they consider some things intrinsically evil. I don't consider being offended as relevant to the legislative framework and I question whether the Classification Act should take into account such personal value judgments.

...Read the full article

 

5th September   

Update: Having a Say...

Australian Law Reform Commission invitates people to join focus groups on the subject of censorship law reform
Link Here  full story: Australian Censorship Review... Reviewing censorship law for all media

Australian Law Reform Commission logoThe Australian Law Reform Commissionis conducting a review of the classification system in Australia.

As part of this review, the ALRC will hold community focus groups to test the kind of content that may be permissible in higher level classification categories (MA15+ and above, including the Refused Classification category). This is a pilot project that will test a methodology for possible further assessment panels that might be held to determine community standards with regards to classification categories in the future.

The ALRC will convene two volunteer focus groups in Sydney at which participants will be asked to view and discuss films, computer games, publications and online content. NOTE: Participants will be asked to view material which they may find offensive, confronting and disturbing.

The Pilot will consist of two focus groups of 15 adults who represent a broad cross section of the Australian community. The ALRC seeks applications from members of the community to participate in this process.

Volunteers must be over 18 years of age.

Each focus group will be held on one day only for half a day. All groups will be held in Sydney on either Saturday 22 October, Monday 31 October, or Wednesday 2 November. You must be available to attend on one of these days.

Please complete the application form, and include a description comprising no more than 300 words outlining why you are interested in taking part in the focus groups. The ALRC wants to ensure that we include people from diverse communities and backgrounds and from all parts of Australia. You must also describe in your application how you believe you will deal personally with viewing and discussing the offensive and confronting material.

A limited number of volunteers will be selected to take part and will be notified by the ALRC no later than 14 October 2011. If you do not hear from the ALRC, you can presume that you have not been selected to participate at this time.

Participation in these focus groups is completely voluntary and no fee will be provided. However, the ALRC will cover reasonable costs that participants incur in order to attend the viewings and discussions, including economy airfares, one night's accommodation if necessary due to travel requirements, and taxi fares to and from the airport. Lunch on the day of the focus group will also be provided.

...See further details about application from alrc.gov.au

 

31st August   

Life and Death of a Porno Gang...

Film often mentioned in the same breath as a Serbian Film passed R18+ uncut in Australia
Link Here

life and death of a porno gang Life and Death of a Porno Gang ( Zivot I Smrt Porno Bande ) is a 2009 Serbia drama by Mladen Djordjevic.

It is described as a disturbing film taking cues from the more famous A Serbian Film . It similarly uses the setting of a porn film being made with allegories to some of the shit going down in Serbia. It's a transgressive film with the scenes of rape, self-mutilation, bestiality, snuff murders and suicide.

It was passed R18+ uncut for home video by the Australian film censor in June of this year. No signs of a release as yet though, but will be sure to stir up a nutter reaction when it does appear.

The Australian censor noted that Life and Death of a Porno Gang contains: High impact sexual themes, violence and actual sexual activity

 

28th August   

Update: Extreme Censorship Law...

Australian police claim that victim of raid of a few magazines and DVDs could face 10 years in jail
Link Here  full story: Sex Shop Raids in Australia...Police raid sex shops looking for porn

Australia: New South Wales flag Australian Police have seized 4000 pornography magazines and DVDs in a raid in Thomastown earlier this month.

Whittlesea Crime Investigation Unit found 3500 illegal X-rated DVDs and about 500 X-rated magazines when they executed a search warrant at a business premises in Brand Drive/

A man was arrested and interviewed about possessing and distributing a commercial quantity of unclassified adult material. He has been released pending further inquiries.

Detective Senior Constable Mark Perna claimed the raid was a good result after a joint operation with the Classification Office in NSW: People may not realise how serious these offences are, and they carry a penalty of a maximum of 10 years' imprisonment or $143,000 fine .

 

26th August   

Updated: Censorship Overkill...

Last victims of Australian ban on games for adults
Link Here  full story: Banned Games in Australia...Adult games ban

House Dead Overkill Extended Cut As the Australian Government prepares legislation to introduce a games classification for adults, Sega's zombie shooting game The House of the Dead: Overkill -- Extended Cut has been banned.

Sega Australia says it is determined to appeal the decision immediately and hope to have the classification overturned without making any changes or amends to the final game .

Sega Australia Managing Director Darren Macbeth said:

There are far worse titles currently available in the marketplace which involve more than shooting down mutants in humorous circumstances.

We will do everything we can to prove that House of the Dead: Overkill is worthy of an MA15+ rating in Australia.

The House of the Dead: Overkill -- Extended Cut had been scheduled for release in Australia on October 27. It is scheduled for release in Europe at about the same time.

Update: Reason for Ban

5th November 2011. Based on article from kotaku.com.au :

It's a particularly strange decision, considering the fact that the original Wii version was released as MA15+ without incident, but the Classification Board's issue is with a new Hardcore mode which has been added to the game.

The Hardcore game mode allows players to play in a manner that exceeds strong in impact, claims the report, engaging a headshot-only mode which results in frequent, detailed blood and gore as the zombies and mutants [sic] heads explode into bloody pieces that spread around the environment and onto the screen. The game also contains an Extra mutants mode which increases the amount of mutants the player must kill to proceed, resulting in an increased intensity and frequency of violence. In addition the game contains a baby mutant that jumps onto the screen and explodes into bloody chunks when killed.

Update: BBFC 18 uncut

See  article from  bbfc.co.uk

BBFC logo The BBFC have just passed The House of the Dead: Overkill -- Extended Cut 18 uncut. The BBFC added the comment:

Contains frequent strong bloody violence, gore and language

The BBFC also noted that the game contains 61:44s of cut scenes (insert video material).

 

22nd August   

Update: Funding Censorship...

Australian art gallery takes down artwork featuring child, lest funders get easily offended
Link Here

child safety commissior A photograph of a partly naked prepubescent girl by internationally renowned photographer Jan Saudek was removed from the Ballarat International Foto Biennale on the eve of its opening.

Biennale director Jeff Moorfoot said he understood a woman went to the Orwellian sounding Office of the Child Safety Commissioner, Tourism Victoria and the local council to complain that the 1995 Saudek work, Black Sheep & White Crow , which she had seen in an ad promoting the exhibition in Art Almanac, depicted a mother prostituting her child.

Moorfoot said the council and tourism agency warned him that a controversy surrounding the image could imperil funding, even though Saudek's works were in a separate room with a warning at the door that they contained adult content.

Moorfoot said: No one's said 'take the work off the wall or else'.   [...BUT... they said] 'if this goes to the ministerial level, chances are we won't fund the next festival'.

 

18th August   

Update: South Australia Recommends...

A Serbian Film. Good enough to ban
Link Here  full story: A Serbian Film...Hype for the most 'outrageous' horror yet

Serbian Film DVD Srdjan Spasojevic On the day before Australia's A Serbian Film DVD release, South Australia has decided to ban it.

The movie has been given an Australian R18+ rating after cuts similar to the UK release.

Attorney-General John Rau says the film was banned by the South Australia's Classification Council. He explained:

It was grotesque at a number of levels. Exploitative sexual violence, offensive depictions of interactions between children and adults, exploitative behaviour generally of a nature that is so unusual that I can't imagine how any right-thinking person could think that this was something that should be appropriately, legally obtained in South Australia.

It's not just my opinion, but the opinion of the South Australian Classification Council, that we respectfully disagree with the decision made at a national level in respect to this particular film.

Nutter controversy about the film had also prompted the Federal Government to ask the national film classification board to review its decision to allow the film into Australia. A spokeswoman for Federal Justice Minister Brendan O'Connor says the review will not affect the imminent screening of the film at the Melbourne festival.

 

12th August   

Updated: Fans See Red...

Australia to get a cut version of the up 'n' coming Red Orchestra 2 game
Link Here

Red Orchestra Heroes Stalingrad DVD It seems as if the Australian version of Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad may be neutered in comparison to the rest of the world.

Hook into Steam and take a peak at your pre-order, and a helpful message will inform you that you'll be receiving the low violence version of the game.

Update: Not so cut after all

12th August 2011. See  article from  games.on.net

Red Orchestra 2 's representatives in Australia confirmed to us moments ago that the Classification Board has passed the game uncut and with no modifications, giving it an MA15+ rating for strong war violence .

This means that the game will now be sold universally, without the need for a low violence version designed around Australian audiences.

 

10th August   

Update: Unabstained...

Now all Australian states and territories back an adult rating for games
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

r18 unbanned The New South Wales Attorney General, Greg Smith, has changed his stance and decided back an R18 rating category for games. Previously he abstained from the vote.

This means that all Australian Attorneys General now back the move.

Cabinet has now given its in-principle support for the introduction of the R18+ rating.

Smith said:

Few people would dispute the value of a classification system that helps keep adult material beyond the reach of children. With strong classification guidelines in place, an R18+ rating should result in violent games currently rated MA15+ in Australia being reclassified as adults-only, as they already are in many other countries.

 

26th July   

Banning Games: A Panacea for All the Worlds Ills...

Nutters quick to exploit Norwegian killings to try and further their own morality cause
Link Here  full story: Anders Behring Breivik...Is the media to blame for Norwegian killings

Call Duty Modern Warfare Xbox Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian mass murderer described the video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 as part of my training-simulation in his 1500-page manifesto published online just before the massacre.

The development has predictably led the Australian Christian Lobby to call for games to be banned if the violence is excessive or gratuitous.

The Australian federal government have said that Breivik committed the atrocities because there is something clearly intrinsically wrong with him , not because he played violent video games.

NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge said Modern Warfare 2 , rated MA15+, is one of the games that should be reviewed to have a more restricted R18+ rating.

In his manifesto entitled 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, Breivik described his addiction to the online multiplayer game World of Warcraft and claimed it was a good cover story to explain what he was doing while plotting the attacks.

Breivik described the game Call of Duty, Modern Warfare as the best military simulator out there , said he usually preferred fantasy role-playing games to shooters but I see MW2 more as a part of my training-simulation than anything else . I've still learned to love it though and especially the multiplayer part is amazing. You can more or less completely simulate actual operations, he wrote.

On World of Warcraft, Breivik said you will be amazed on how much you can do undetected while blaming this game . If your planning requires you to travel, say that you are visiting one of your WoW friends, or better yet, a girl from your 'guild' (who lives in another country). No further questions will be raised if you present these arguments.

Australia's Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O'Connor was asked on ABC's Insiders about the link between video games and the Oslo shooting. O'Connor said it would not change his support for the R18+ rating for video games, which he argued would prevent adult video games from slipping through as MA15+ or lower:

At the moment the most popular adult-themed games that are played only lawfully by adults around the world are played by 15 year olds here.

But look, because there is a madman who has done just such atrocities in Norway, I don't think that means that we are going to close down film or the engagement with games, he said.

I think it really points to, of course, a person who - clearly there is something wrong with this person to sort of cause such devastation in Norway. But I'm not sure that the argument goes that as a result of watching a game you turn into that type of person. I think there is something clearly intrinsically wrong with him.

The Australian Christian Lobby managing director Jim Wallace criticised O'Connor over his remarks and said that if even a few deranged minds could be taken over the edge by an obsession with violent games then the game should be banned.

The studied indifference of this killer to the suffering he was inflicting, his obvious dehumanising of his victims and the evil methodical nature of the killings have all the marks of games scenarios, said Wallace.

How can we allow the profits of the games industry and selfishness of games libertarians to place our increasingly dysfunctional society at further risk? Even if this prohibition were to save only one tragedy like this each twenty years it would be worth it.

 

22nd July   

Update: Australia Grows Up...

Law makers finally decide to introduce an adult rating for games
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

r18 unbanned Australia's federal government has announced Australia will introduce the long-awaited R18+ classification for video games, saying the process will only take a couple of months.

Australia's federal, state, and territory ministers met at their Standing Committee of Attorneys-General meeting (SCAG) to discuss the fate of the adult rating. Despite NSW being the only state to abstain from the vote on R18+, all other eight jurisdictions agreed to its introduction once the proposed guidelines are approved by the respective cabinets.

Federal Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor said that he would go ahead and introduce the R18+ classification for games at a federal level, and it would then be up to each state and territory to decide whether or not it adopts it.

O'Connor says it may now only be a matter of months before the adult rating is introduced. The proposed R18+ draft guidelines were once again amended at the meeting, changes that require some jurisdictions to seek approval from their respective cabinets. Once this is done, the federal government will begin drafting the legislation necessary to introduce the R18+ classification for games.

 

22nd July   

Legislating for Teenage Tantrums...

Australian law makers consider further age restrictions on Facebook
Link Here

Facebook logo Australian attorneys-generals are discussing ways to give parents access to their kids' Facebook profiles. They will also examine an 18+ Facebook age limit.

The idea was first proposed by a South Australian Family First MP, Dennis Hood, and is being championed by South Australian Attorney-General John Rau.

Rau argued that giving parents assistance to supervise their children on Facebook would help protect against online predators and limit access to unsuitable material.

But Susan McLean, who was Victoria Police's first cyber safety officer and is now an online safety consultant, said:

The proposal was ill-informed and it shows a total lack of understanding of what the internet is. It's not Facebook's fault that there are problems on Facebook. You can't legislate against stupidity or poor parenting or anything like that. It would be nice but it can't be done and it breaks down any level of trust that you should be trying to develop with your kids.

At their meeting today, the country's top lawmakers will consider requiring proof of age checks and even raising the age limit to 18, federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland confirmed.

Rau said:

Age verification is something that various platforms deal with and I can't see why it should be beyond the wit of Facebook to do the same thing, if that was the solution people wanted.

I think people need to understand that just because they are operating in the virtual world, that is on the internet, it does not mean that there should not be boundaries or rules or standards of behaviour.

 

22nd July   

Offsite: Censors in the Doldrums...

Classification system 'broken': Pirate Party Australia
Link Here  full story: Australian Censorship Review... Reviewing censorship law for all media

pirate party australia logo Pirate Party Australia (PPA) has called for a wholesale overhaul of Australia's fundamentally broken classification system.

In its submission to the Australian Law Reform Committee National Classification Scheme review, PPA called for the introduction of a European PEGI-style or American ESRB-style model of voluntary classification for media and the abolition of the Refused Classification category.

As media converges and changes in the digital paradigm of the 21st Century, systems, laws and frameworks must adapt to these changes of environment, the submission reads.

The sheer speed that media is being created and distributed makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to manage in a proper and timely manner.

The sheer size and architecture of the internet makes any classification scheme entirely unenforceable and would simply penalise Australian companies attempting to compete in the global digital environment and Australian consumers who are forced to look overseas for their entertainment services.

...Read the full article

 

21st July   

Update: Capital!...

ACT will go it alone if necessary to provide an adult rating for computer games
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

Australia ACT flag The ACT (Canberra) will lead a push for an adult rating for computer games at a meeting of state and territory Attorney Generals.

But ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell says the territory will go it alone on an R-18+ rating if a national agreement cannot be reached when the Attorneys gather in Adelaide.

Corbell said this morning that a number of states and territories have indicated support for the new classification but if agreement cannot be reached, he will begin work on territory-specific legislation: But that's not a desirable outcome, a sensible outcome is to get a uniform scheme covering all Australians and that's what the ACT will be supporting. We have been consistent for many years now in our support for an R 18 plus classification for computer games.

 

20th July   

Update: Playing a Waiting Game...

Christian nutters pounce on chance to delay an adult rating for games
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

Australian Christian Lobby The Australian Christian Lobby has asked classification ministers meeting in Adelaide later this week that they should wait until the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) completes its review of the National Classification Scheme before voting on video game classification reform that would add a new R18+ rating.

ACL spokesman Rob Ward said:

You can't equate an R18+ game with an R18+ film because games are interactive and repetitively engage the gamer in acts of violence and sex, Ward said. Allow the Australian Law Reform Commission to complete its comprehensive review and detail how games should be classified and whether they should be introduced into the Australian market.

However ACL were not so impressed by South Australian Attorney-General John Rau's desire to reclassify existing MA15+ games as R18+:

Mr. Rau's suggestion wouldn't address or fix the problems inherent in the existing classification system, such as subjective and ill-defined guidelines. The system also requires proper enforcement mechanisms and consequences for publishers and retailers who breach the guidelines.

 

18th July   

Update: Playing Silly Games...

Australian censorship ministers looking to derail gaming for adults
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

R18+ banned Aussie adult gamers are looking upon this Friday's Standing Committee of Attorneys-General meeting (SCAG) as D-day for gaming classification in Australia, with all nine federal, state and territory censorship ministers voting on the introduction of an R18+ classification for games.

It now appears that the decision will be delayed again, with at least one attorney-general planning to abstain from taking part in the R18+ vote. The New South Wales Attorney-General's department is declaring that the NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith will not be voting on the R18+ for games issue: We're not going down a definitive route, a spokesperson for Smith told GameSpot AU. More work needs to be done on this issue. We want to wait to see the results of the ALRC [Australian Law Reform Commission] classification review.

If Smith takes this position at the SCAG meeting on Friday, it will mean the R18+ for games decision will once again be delayed. For an adult classification for games to be introduced, all of Australia's state, territory, and federal governments must unanimously agree on its implementation.

The ALRC review is currently underway, and is not set for completion until at least early 2012.

Meanwhile South Australia Attorney-General John Rau has said that the state will drop the country's MA15+ rating for videogames in favour of an R18 rating, irrespective of any rulings at the Australian commonwealth level.

In this inane scheme there will be no classification option between PG and 18.

Spokesperson for the opposition Liberal party, Stephen Wade, called the move bizarre and unfair to local retailers, reports newspaper The Australian: The Attorney-General has indicated that he appreciates that people will continue to access games, through downloading them and through mail order. So it would be clearly an unfair impost on South Australian retailers at a time we are very aware of the competition between the online retail marker and the shopfront retail market.

 

6th July   

Update: Half-Baked...

New Australian website blocking is easy to circumvent
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

optus logo Optus, Australia's second largest telco, has confirmed recent rumors that the voluntary filtering technology it is rolling out in the upcoming weeks can be easily circumvented by users.

In response to a question whether a work-around to the Uptus filer was possible by simply using a different DNS server than the default setting on the user's PC, a company spokesperson said: That's correct. It's a feature of the Interpol list.

The ease of circumvention led a critic of the plan, Electronic Frontiers Association spokesperson Stephen Collins, to wonder why the filter was being unveiled in the first place. With such a trivial circumvention, Optus' implementation of this block list is worse than ineffective, it's also misleading on a grand scale, he said, adding, Nobody will be protected from criminals by this, and worse, for those customers who believe they are protected, their kids or anyone else using their internet connection will bypass this with less than 30 seconds effort. Optus should be ashamed of themselves; first for implementing this list and trying to have their customers believe it would work and second for doing such a half-baked job.

 

6th July   

Update: Playing a Weak Game So far...

Call for more gamers' contributions to Australia's censorship review
Link Here  full story: Australian Censorship Review... Reviewing censorship law for all media

australian law reform commission logo kotaku.com.au writes:

The closing date Submissions to the Issues Paper for the Australian Law Reform Commission is July 15 yet, despite being open since the middle of May, there are currently only 80 completed submissions. Time is running out.

Let's get motivated! These are important issues, and paramount to the way classification will be rebuilt post the Australian Law Reform Commission's report early next year.

For details and submissions see:

 

3rd July   

Move It Out Back...

Stone sculpture censored after it 'offends' Aboriginal communities in Australia
Link Here

wanjina watchers The New South Wales Land and Environment Court has ordered the removal of a Katoomba sculpture deemed 'offensive' by Aboriginal communities in Western Australia and the Blue Mountains.

But ModroGorje Wellness and Art Centre owner Vesna Tenodi said the decision to have the Wanjina Watchers in the Whispering Stone sculpture removed from the front lawn of her gallery's grounds was akin to censorship.

The court upheld Blue Mountains City Council's decision that the work had caused 'offence' to Aboriginal cultural beliefs and could not be tolerated in its highly visible street location.

The sculpture's depiction of sacred Wanjina images has supposedly distressed the Ngarinyin, Worrorra and Wanumbal language groups in the north west Kimberley region.

Ngarinyin and Willinggin Aboriginal Corporations director Gordon Smith said nothing short of the sculpture's destruction would be satisfactory despite a summary of the court's ruling suggesting moving the work to a less visible location could mitigate the social impact.