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Lack of consensus will not kill R18 debate in Australia

Government suggests that failure to reach agreement might trigger further reforms

Australian Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor has said that a failure to reach a consensus in the debate over an R18 classification for games in the country would not necessarily mean a stalemate, indicating that the Federal government would be willing to investigate other options should an agreement prove elusive.

Currently, any games which are deemed too mature for a 15 rating are refused classification in Australia, leading many publishers to re-edit content to make it appropriate for that age-bracket, or simply to decide not to release the title in the territory at all.

"We're becoming the laughing stock of the developed world, where we're the only country that doesn't have an R18 classification level for video games," O'Connor told ABC News.

"I foreshadow that if there is not a consensus around this issue, the Commonwealth will certainly be considering other options because we cannot continue to have an outdated classification system that's actually, in my view, causing harm to young people.

"I'm not going to let this matter end because it's too important to allow one or two jurisdictions to stop the majority of jurisdictions in this country moving on an important reform," Mr O'Connor continued.

"But can I say my very strong preference is to have consensus around the table in July."

O'Connor has long been an advocate of the higher band rating, as have the majority of surveyed Australians. However, some religious and parent groups have claimed that an R18 rating would expose children to new levels of violence.

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Dan Pearson