One man happily blocks Australian democracy

Any hope of an R18+ rating for games in Australia has been scuttled thanks to one man.

Democracy is a wonderful thing, but not when it gives one person an unprecedented amount of power.

Especially if that person happens to be Michael Atkinson, who now seems determined to aggravate every Australian adult who’s played a video game.

The South Australian Attorney-General withdrew his support for a discussion paper and public consultation.

In Australia, the adoption of an extra, or any changes at all, ratings system requires the approval of all state ministers.

Atkinson’s decision to not even debate the topic means that the issue is effectively dead in the water until he changes his mind or leaves his post.

More disturbing is his decision to remove his support for the discussion paper.

In March, censorship ministers agreed to test public opinion by releasing a discussion paper weighing up the pros and cons of a R18+ classification. Thanks to Atkinson, the public won’t ever get to see that paper – and because of the discussions and that they’re not approved for public release, it’s possible that you can’t see the paper under Freedom Of Information laws either.

Atkinson’s decision, predictably, has outraged the public, the gaming industry and fellow politicians.

Ron Curry, CEO of the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia, says the local industry will continue fighting for the 91% of Australian adults that want a R18+ rating.

“You could be forgiven for taking a view that the South Australian Attorney-General has now actively censored the debate on censorship. What’s next?” said Curry.

Senator Guy Barnett also supported the R18+ rating, and hinted that the system of unanimous support by censorship ministers may not be sustainable in the future.

“We have a real problem, and this is something the Senate and the parliament is going to have to address,” he said. “If we have one state opposing this, South Australia, then clearly we are not going to have any R rating of video games. That simply cannot occur as a matter of course legally.”

The R18+ classification for games is set to be discussed again at the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General meeting next month.

Source: Screenplay (The Age)