Senator Kate Lundy delivers Adjournment speech supporting an R18+ games classification in Australia


Uploaded by KateLundy on 23.11.2010

Transcript:
I rise today to advocate for the introduction of an R18+ games classification to Australia
in my capacity as Senator for the ACT. This is not a decision to be made by the Government.
Rather, it is a decision that requires agreement among the Federal and State Attorneys General
around the nation.
I would like to urge them to support the introduction of this games classification for three key
reasons.
Firstly, it is worth noting that we already have an R18+ classification for films. This
classification is important as it gives parents clear guidance on what is appropriate for
their children and teenagers. As a parent I know there is a peace of mind when selecting
films for my family’s enjoyment, to know that there is a robust classification system.
The classification system informs my choices and helps me assess suitability and age appropriateness
for my children.
The absence of an R18+ computer games classification creates something of a grey area for parents.
There is limited guidance for parents or young people, creating a risk where games are purchased
that they are not suitable.
Computer games targeted specifically at adults are often moved into the Australian MA15+
games classification theoretically with some edits and there is concern that young people,
ie: under 18s, may be able to circumvent these modifications, gaining access to content which
is not necessarily age appropriate.
Currently retail store sales people have to advise parents that some MA15+ games are not
suitable for under 18s, when it should be the classification system providing clear
guidelines for parents as to what material is suitable for adults and what material isn’t.
It is my view that if such games were able to be classified R18+ in the first instance,
then parents would have greater peace of mind that the games rated MA15+ their children
are playing are in fact, age appropriate.
Considering 95% of children under 15, and 84% of teenagers and adults between 16-25
years play computer and video games, it is important Madam Acting Deputy President, that
we ensure our games classification system is up to speed with other entertainment such
as films, and other countries.
Secondly, creating an R18+ classification for computer games is an opportunity to catch
up with the rest of the world. This is a significant issue for this industry sector. We have a
booming games sector in Australia and a growing market. For example, in 2008, we know 88%
of Australian households had a device for playing computer games and the Australian
computer games industry is growing at an annualised rate of more than 15%.
The average age of people who play computer games is 30, illustrating the strength of
the adult game market, with the sector’s turnover standing at over $1.3 billion in
2007 according to the Bond University report entitled Interactive Australia 2009.
Both the United States and United Kingdom have an R18+ games classification which means
games developers incur additional costs to modify their products for the local market
to meet our MA15+ classification.
With many games originally developed for an adult audience, this represents an additional
burden for our Australian games sector. As a result, many of these games are simply banned
for sale or distribution in Australia as a result giving rise to the temptation of overseas
purchase, or worse, illicit distribution in Australia.
Given this sector is a rapidly growing export oriented part of our economy, I think it is
important to remove unnecessary impediments to Australian games development companies,
helping them to be globally competitive.
Finally, I have observed a groundswell of public support for the introduction of an
R18+ games classification. It is coming from a diverse range of people, with support from
parents and parent groups, ICT, telecommunications and related sector organisations as well as
the expected gamer communities and computer games industry organisations.
The Bond University research paper Interactive Australia 2009 paper, also found that 91%
of Australians, gamers and non-gamers alike, support the introduction of an R18+ games
classification.
On 14 December 2009, the Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon Brendan O’Connor MP, released
the discussion paper Should the Australian National Classification Scheme include an
R 18+ classification category for computer games?
According to the Department’s web site, the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department
has received almost 60,000 submissions via email, fax, post, as well as from the retailer
EB Games and from the organisation ‘Grow Up Australia’. About 98% of these submissions
were in support of the introduction of an R18+ games classification. The submissions
and the consultation report can be found on the Federal Attorney General’s website at
www.ag.gov.au/gamesclassification.
One such supporter is in fact the Attorney-General of the ACT, Minister Simon Corbell, who will
by virtue of his position be part of the decision making process. He has placed his view on
the public record and supports the introduction of an R18+ games classification, and I quote:
“The ACT supports the introduction of an R18+ classification. This classification would
ensure that games with adult content are sold only to adults and that the purchasers are
fully aware of the content of the games. There is evidence that many people are purchasing
games from overseas and over the internet, and because the games are not classified,
they may have little or no information to enable them to determine whether this is something
they truly want to view or use.”
Madam Acting Deputy President, I seek leave to table a document that whilst technically
does not conform with the format required by the Senate, constitutes a petition, and
states:
“By signing this petition you believe that Australia should have an R18+ games classification
for PC & video games.”
In 8 weeks, 89,210 people from all over Australia signed the document in support of an R18+
games classification, and this number has been verified in an independent audit.
This is one of the largest petitions submitted to the Australian Senate in the last 15 years,
and I would like to acknowledge the efforts of Roland Kulen from PALGN and Robert Lukic
from GAME for their hard work in coordinating this effort, as well as the many advocates
for an R18+ games classification throughout Australia.
Thank you