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Australian gov't hopes for R18+ certificate by mid 2011

Home Affairs minister trying to push gaming legislation through by July

Australia's Home Affairs minister Brendan O'Connor has told press that he'd like to get an R18+ certificate introduced for games by July of this year.

Currently, Australia's highest certificate for games is 15, meaning that most games which are given 18 certificates elsewhere are simply not allowed to be published in the country. O'Connor wants this situation rectified post-haste, but the absence of New South Wales representative John Hatzistergos from the Standing Committee of Attorneys General in March makes a decision then impossible.

"It would be optimistic to assume we would even get to the voting stage in March," O'Connor told GameSpot AU. "But we need to resolve this issue one way or another. From the Federal Government's point of view, we'd like the matter determined at the July SCAG meeting, regardless of which way it swings.

"We can't continue to go back and forth on this. I can only keep presenting the arguments, and by then, all the ministers will be present, and everyone will have had a good chance to look at the issue properly and determine a final position."

O'Connor plans to use the March meeting to bring representatives up to speed on the most recent and compelling arguments for the legislation, pointing out that a vote could possibly be taken at that point in the unlikely event of unilateral support. NSW could then be allowed to add its assent at a later date.

However, given that Hatzistergos' absence from the meeting is due to state election commitments, O'Connor is aware that he may well have a different representative to convince of the matter come July.

"As I understand, the NSW Opposition hasn't made its views clear on R18+. However, if there is a strongly held view that R18+ should be introduced after the March SCAG meeting, I will be impressing this position upon whichever party that wins the NSW election. There will be great pressure on the party to carefully consider SCAG's position if it is recommending changes.

"We can't continue to have an outdated arrangement, which doesn't reflect technological changes, just like we can't continue to deny the rights of adults. We simply can't continue to justify the current arrangement."

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Dan Pearson

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