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R18+ classification poised to pass Parliament

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The lengthy struggle to install an R18+ category for the Australian computer gaming sector is closer to fruition, with legislation passing the House of Representatives yesterday.

The legislation, which brings the gaming industry into the 21st century and in line with film classification, passed in the House of Representatives without amendment and will now move to the Senate for debate in coming weeks. The Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Justice Jason Clare said “the R18+ category will inform consumers, parents and retailers about which games are not suitable for minors to play, and will prevent minors from purchasing unsuitable material.”

Following the passage of this legislation through the Senate, the States and Territories will pass their own complementary legislation to ensure that R 18+ computer games are appropriately regulated. Subject to this occurring the national scheme will commence on 1 January next year.

The introduction of an R18+ category for computer games has been tested via extensive public consultation over recent years and considered nationally by Censorship Ministers for some time. Frustrated Australian gamers, who have had to endure the banning of games such as Mortal Kombat Reboot, have petitioned widely for the introduction.

“The reforms also mean that adults are able to choose what games they play within the bounds of the law,” Clare, possibly a secret gamer, added. The Attorney-General’s Department released a discussion paper on the introduction of an R 18+ classification category for computer games back in 2009.

At the time they received 58,437 submissions in response with 98 per cent of these supported the introduction of an R 18+ category. The Bill also has the support of State and Territory Attorneys-General, who agreed to this reform at the Standing Council on Law and Justice meeting in July 2011.

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