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NSW stalls on R18+ games classification: report

New classification may yet arrive, however

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The meeting of Australian attorneys-general came within one voice of deciding to add an R18+ games classification to Australia’s censorship regime.

Australia has been the subject of intense lobbying by gamers and game vendors to add the classification, so that games like Mortal Kombat can be legally sold in this country. Currently, games can only be sold under classifications up to MA15+, with more violent and/or sexy material going straight to the “refused classification” bin.

Attorneys-general meeting today (July 22) have discussed the classification question and, according to Gamespot, all state A-Gs except NSW agreed that the classification should be adopted.

Whether or not this is admitted, NSW has a particular problem: an obstructionist presence from the religious right in its upper house. Reverend Fred Nile, who leads the Christian Democrats in NSW, is also a vote the state government needs, lacking a majority in that house.

This week, Nile threatened to derail new government regulations covering public sector wages, unless the government agreed to end “ethics classes” (provided as an alternative to scripture classes) in NSW schools. It appears at least feasible to El Reg that such sensitivities were in mind at today’s meeting.

The NSW attorney-general Greg Smith had already announced his intention to abstain from the vote, but has said he will take the issue back to NSW cabinet. ®

Update: While the NSW cabinet will have to consider the ratings question separately, the federal attorney-general Brendan O'Connor has called the near-unanimous vote a "historic agreement". He's also kindly let NSW A-G Greg Smith off the hook by suggesting to ABC News 24 that he may not have been briefed on the matter before the meeting.

O'Connor's upbeat assessment is that Australia may have an R18+ games classification in a matter of months. The communique from the meeting is here.

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