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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004-2005 Week 1 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 216..

Title read by Clerk.

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra-Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs) (10.35): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

The Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) (Enforcement) Amendment Bill 2004 will amend the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) (Enforcement) Act 1995 to implement changes to the national classification code, harmonise the act with the Criminal Code 2002 and make other technical amendments.

Under the 1995 intergovernmental censorship agreement, the commonwealth, states and territories agreed to the creation of a cooperative scheme for censorship in Australia. The national classification code is established under commonwealth legislation, and classification decisions in relation to particular films are made by the commonwealth Office of Film and Literature Classification. However, the states and territories are responsible for the enforcement of classification decisions in relation to films, computer games and publications.

The underpinning principles of the national classification code are that adults should be able to read, hear and see what they want; minors should be protected from material likely to harm or disturb them; everyone should be protected from exposure to unsolicited material that they find offensive; and community concerns need to be taken into account about depictions that condone or incite violence, particularly sexual violence, and the portrayal of persons in a demeaning manner.

The national classification code sets out the criteria for assessing a film as being at a particular classification level, such as G, PG, MA and 15+. Classification designations let families know what is in a movie, computer game or publication. Classification and consumer advice decisions are based on the classifiable elements in a movie, computer game or publication. Classifiable elements include violence, sex, themes such as suicide, racism and corruption, course language, drug use and nudity.

Changes to the national classification code have recently been agreed to by the commonwealth, states and territories. The modified classification system will enhance consumer awareness of the age restriction associated with particular films and computer games by including an age specification as part of particular classification symbols. For example, R will become R 18+. These changes will highlight the distinction between the advisory categories, to which no age specification is attached-for instance, G, PG and M-and the restricted categories of film, X 18+, R 18+ and MA 15+.

Advisory classifications are not restricted to anyone, regardless of age. These classifications are a recommendation only, and parents are encouraged to advise their children whether these movies, computer games and publications are suitable. They also assist adults in making informed choices prior to viewing a particular film or purchasing a publication.

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