Australian Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor offered his full support for a new, adults-only R18+ video game rating in the country, placing the weight of the federal government behind the move.
O'Connor, who had previously hedged his opinion on the matter of adult ratings, writes in a Punch editorial
that games deserve to be treated in the same manner as other media in the country.
"While I’m not personally a fan of Jason and the Friday the 13th [movie] series, the fact is, if you’re over 18 you can watch as much of it as you like – all 12 movies if you want." he wrote. "But, when it comes to games, if the game is judged not to be suitable for people under 15 - it can’t be played legally in Australia."
The move comes after O'Connor's office released a report
last week showing the scientific evidence linking youthful exposure to violent game content and real-world aggression was inconclusive.
"What evidence there is, is not strong enough to make me want to stop the millions of Australians who play games safely, responsibly, and actually have a lot of fun," O'Connor wrote.
In the Punch piece, O'Connor also suggested the new rating would remove a competitive disadvantage for Australian game companies, and said many existing games rated MA15+ in the country may merit re-classification if the new rating is put into effect.
A decision on the new rating's introduction now goes to the country's state and territory attorneys-general, all of whom must approve of the change for it to go into effect. The group is scheduled to meet to discuss the matter Friday.
South Australia Attorney General John Rau told The Adelaide Advertiser
he would be open to changing his long-standing opposition to the new rating if he was convinced sufficient measures were in place to protect children from content meant for adults.
Surveys show a vast majority of Australians
support the addition of the new rating.