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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004-2005 Week 1 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 217..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

Australian legislation recognises that some movies, games and publications require a mature perspective. The protection of children from exposure to unsuitable and explicit content is an important objective of the Australian classification system. Such material is classified in legally restricted categories.

The changes are a follow-on from the creation of a single set of classification guidelines for both films and computer games in 2003. The highest permissible classification for computer games will remain MA 15+. The amendments to classifications that are made by this bill are complementary to the changes to the national classification code made by the commonwealth earlier this year, following the agreement of censorship ministers. The states and the Northern Territory either have made or are in the process of making these amendments as part of the national cooperative scheme.

A system of transitional measures under the commonwealth act will allow films classified under the old system to continue to be exhibited, which will minimise any inconvenience to businesses involved in the film and computer game industry in complying with the new classification system. Amending the classification act has also given me the opportunity to introduce further technical amendments that will streamline the act with the Criminal Code 2002 and resolve a potential difficulty with evidentiary certificates issued by the commonwealth Office of Film and Literature Classification.

The bill has also been carefully considered in terms of its compatibility with the Human Rights Act 2004. In a small number of provisions in the bill there are some limitations on the rights of the accused in court proceedings so that the right of children to be protected from exposure to violent and sexually explicit material can be guaranteed. The protection of children from exposure to unsuitable and explicit content is an important objective of the Australian classification system.

Of necessity, the application of the Human Rights Act in circumstances such as this does require some value judgment to be made. In this case, a value judgment has been made by the government that these limitations are reasonable and demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. I draw the attention of members to these provisions and also to the discussion of these issues contained in the explanatory statement. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Stefaniak ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Crimes Amendment Bill (2004) (No 4)

Mr Stanhope, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra-Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and indigenous Affairs) (10.42): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

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