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The Tasmanian Government is backing a federal government plan to introduce an R18+ classification scheme for computer games.

While an R18+ category currently applies to other forms of entertainment, such as films and magazines, Australia is unique in not having introduced it to the gaming sector. An R18+ classification exists for gaming exists in the EU, the United States, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and Singapore.

Federal Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor has warned the state attorneys general that he intends to impose an R18+ classification for games even if they refuse to sign on to the plan at a meeting in Adelaide on July 21.

O'Connor has branded Australia's opposition to an adult rating as an international embarrassment.

Recently the Classification Board's limited rating system for gaming has resulted in the banning of Mortal Kombat Reboot from being bought or sold in Australia. The board decided that the game is too violent and cannot receive even its strictest rating of MA15+.

The issue of an R18+ classification scheme has been considered nationally by Censorship Ministers for some time and frustrated gamers have signed a petition to the senate for the review of the rating system. Public consultation on a new R18+ classification for computer games took place in 2009 and 2010. It found the majority of Australians support the introduction of an R18+ classification.

The Tasmanian Attorney General, David Bartlett, said: “For me, the real issue is not whether we should have an R18+ classification – which is obvious. The issue is how to construct those guidelines. We need to ensure the guidelines are properly worded, so appropriate games can be played by adults, while still excluding those games which depict high-level sex and violence.

"The debate should now be about getting those guidelines or criteria right.”

South Australia Attorney General John Rau has also flagged support for an R18+ rating on the condition the current MA15 classification is abolished. "We're the only country that doesn't have an R18+ classification level for video games," he said.

The Commonwealth is currently finalising a draft code and classification scheme. “I look forward to receiving and commenting on that draft code soon,” Bartlett said. ®

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