Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2012 Week 4 Hansard (29 March) . . Page.. 1507..
The classification of computer games in Australia, as well as films and publications, is governed by the commonwealth Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995.
Section 51(v) of the Australian constitution confers power on the commonwealth to classify material—computer games, films and publications. Computer games are currently categorised into the G, PG, M, MA15+ or RC categories.
States and territories are responsible for the censorship of materials—that is, determining the specific content of materials within each category. Under the scheme states and territories are also responsible for the enforcement of classification decisions.
The Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) (Enforcement) Amendment Bill 2012 introduces an R18+ classification category for computer games in the ACT, placing it within the current framework which already contains the G, PG, M, MA15+ and RC categories.
The new category will be enforced by the Office of Regulatory Services. Currently in the ACT, the Commissioner for Fair Trading regulates X18+ films by licensing sellers of such films and ensuring X18+ films are sold only in the designated industrial areas of Fyshwick, Mitchell and Hume.
ORS inspectors also have powers, including the power to enter and search premises without a warrant, to ensure that businesses are complying with their obligations in regard to X18+ films under the ACT classification act.
Unlike X18+ films, R18+ computer games will be available to the public from a wide range of retail outlets, such as department stores and specialist computer games stores. There is no licensing regime, unlike that for X18+ films.
To enable ORS inspectors to enforce the R18+ computer game category, the ACT classification amendment bill replicates the enforcement framework that is currently in place for X18+ films, other than the requirement for licences.
Another notable feature of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) (Enforcement) Amendment Bill 2012 is that it engages section 11(2) of the Human Rights Act 2004 which provides that every child has the right to the protection needed by the child, because of being a child, without distinction or discrimination of any kind.
The introduction of the R18+ classification category engages this right in a positive sense, as it will provide more protection to children and vulnerable adults than the present scheme under which any person can purchase material, other than refused classification material, from overseas and have no guidance as to its content.
The ACT has long supported the introduction of an R18+ category for computer games in Australia, because it will provide governments with a greater ability to