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Wednesday, 15 February 2012
Page: 1339


Mr CLARE (Blaxland—Minister for Justice and Minister for Home Affairs) (10:01): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I am pleased to present to the House this bill, which will introduce an R 18+ category for computer games.

This will bring the classification categories for computer games into line with existing categories used to classify films and make the Australian classification regime more consistent with international standards.

The bill amends the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 and makes a consequential amendment to schedule 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.

This reform has been a long time coming.

Agreement to introduce an R 18+ category has been reached after 10 years of negotiations with the states and territories.

Over these ten years the Australian computer game industry has grown—along with the number of Australian computer gamers.

Research that has been conducted by Bond University suggests that nine in every 10 Australian homes now has a device for playing computer games.

The average age of Australian computer gamers is 32—with Australian women making up 47 per cent of computer game players.

The Australian gaming industry is forecast to grow at a rate of about 10 per cent a year—with forecasts predicting it will reach $2.5 billion annually by 2015.

A lot of Australians are passionate about this reform.

When the Attorney-General's Department released a discussion paper on the introduction of an R 18+ classification category for computer games in 2009 they received 58,437 submissions in response.

Ninety-eight per cent of these supported the introduction of an R 18+ category.

My predecessor in this portfolio, Minister O'Connor, pursued this issue throughout his time as Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Justice.

Last year he led the discussion of this issue with state and territory attorneys-general at the Standing Council on Law and Justice. At their July meeting the ministers decided to support this reform.

This bill will implement the Commonwealth's obligations as part of this agreement—and state and territory jurisdictions will follow with their own legislation later this year.

It is anticipated that the act provided for in this bill will come into effect on 1 January next year.

I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.