I know, it seems like the various State Attorneys General coming to an “in-principle” agreement in favour of an R18+ rating for games would be a good thing for… well, actually for getting the rating passed.
However, it actually isn’t and it could delay this repair to the classifications system indefinitely. If the “in-principle” agreement hadn’t been announced, we’d likely have had an R18+ classification in the works by next week. As it is, it is actually looking increasingly doubtful that it will turn up any time soon.
Support for the R18+ games classification is very high with the vast majority of polls and submissions showing support for it. Support has been high for some time, though, but it hasn’t ever passed.
You see, the Attorneys General need to vote unanimously (there’s an exception to this rule, which I’ll get to in a moment) for this to go ahead. Up until now, no State Attorney General has needed to care about the issue, since South Australia’s then-Attorney General Michael Atkinson was dead against it, so everyone could get the political capital of being in favour of it without ever actually having to worry about the new classification actually passing.
And then things changed. Atkinson was out and the whole issue started to get more limelight and public prominence.
Without Michael Atkinson around, it seemed like a shoe-in.
However last year, Christian Porter, Western Australia’s Attorney General blocked the vote claiming not to have done his homework for the most heavily publicised item on the agenda. With weeks (actually many months) to pop his head into the Cabinet chambers and ask “R18+ for games, what do we think, yeah?” he… well, just hadn’t gotten around to it. So sorry, lads. See you all again next year.
Well, now it’s next year, and the New South Wales Attorney General has been dragging his heels, and decided that he would decline to vote.
However – remember I said there was an exception? – the Commonwealth Attorney General was ready to jump in and overrule the NSW AG on this one. That would have seen it pass, and everything start to crank into motion as early as next week (though actually getting the rubber finally on the road may have taken a while).
But no! The Commonwealth Attorney General was – what I understand to be colloquially called – ‘cock-blocked’ by the “in principle” agreement of the States Attorneys General to be broadly in favour of the R18+ classification. It seems to me that if they’re in favour, they could have just voted that way.
What it looks like is that the State Attorneys General aren’t actually really all that keen to put their hands up in favour of this classification, principle or not. Not so much as to stand up and be counted, anyway.
The next time we go around this particular track, I expect the dog will have eaten someone’s homework.