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Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Amendment (R 18+ Computer Games) Bill 2012

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2010 - 2011 - 2012

 

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

CLASSIFICATION (PUBLICATIONS, FILMS AND COMPUTER GAMES) AMENDMENT (R 18+ COMPUTER GAMES) BILL 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of the Minister for Justice,

the Honourable Jason Clare MP)

 

 



CLASSIFICATION (PUBLICATIONS, FILMS AND COMPUTER GAMES) AMENDMENT (R 18+ COMPUTER GAMES) BILL 2012

GENERAL OUTLINE

 

This Bill amends the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (Classification Act) to introduce an R 18+ (Restricted) category for computer games and makes a consequential amendment to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA) to recognise the introduction of an R 18+ category for computer games.

 

This Bill creates an adult category for computer games - that is, a category legally restricted to persons 18 years of age and over. It aligns the computer game classification category with the film classification category in respect to R18+ (Restricted).

Computer games are regulated under the National Classification Scheme (NCS). The NCS is a cooperative scheme between the Commonwealth, States and Territories.   Procedures for the classification of publications, films and computer games are set out in the Classification Act.  Provisions dealing with the consequences of not having material classified and enforcement of classification decisions are contained in complementary State and Territory enforcement laws.  These laws contain a range of offences concerning the sale and use of computer games, and establish a number of conditions on the possession, demonstration and advertising of computer games. 

The current classification categories available for computer games under section 7(3) of the Classification Act consist of G (General), PG (Parental Guidance), M (Mature),

MA 15+ (Mature Accompanied) and RC (Refused Classification).  There is no category for computer games that is legally restricted to adults. 

The R 18+ computer game category will inform consumers, parents and retailers which games are not suitable for minors to play, and will help prevent children from accessing unsuitable material.

New computer games submitted for classification after the commencement of this Bill will be subject to this proposal.  However, existing provisions in the Classification Act will continue to operate in relation to computer games that have been classified prior to this Bill coming into effect. 

 

Section 38 precludes a reclassification of a computer game within two years of its classification decision. Pursuant to s 39, a computer game may be reclassified once a period of two years has elapsed from the date of the existing classification decision. The Classification Board may act on its own initiative, or at the request of the Minister.  State and Territory Censorship Ministers may request the Minister in writing to request a reclassification of a computer game on their behalf. 

Extensive public consultation conducted over the past two years demonstrated strong support in favour of the introduction of an R 18+ category for computer games.

The amendments in this Bill have been developed to ensure that the Australian classification system is comparable with international classification schemes.

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT STATEMENT

 

The amendments in the Bill have no financial impact on Government revenue.



STATEMENT OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011



Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Amendment

(R 18+ Computer Games) Bill 2012

 

This Bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011.

Overview of the Bill

The general purpose of the Bill is to create an R18+ adult category for computer games.

Human rights implications

This Bill does not engage any of the applicable rights or freedoms.

Conclusion

This Bill is compatible with human rights as it does not raise any human rights issues.

 



NOTES ON CLAUSES

Clause 1- Short title

This clause provides that when the Bill is enacted, it is to be cited as the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Amendment (R 18+ Computer Games) Act 2012

Clause 2- Commencement

This clause provides that the Act will commence on 1 January 2013. 

Clause 3- Schedule(s)

This clause provides that the Schedule to the Bill will amend or repeal each Act as set out in the applicable items in the Schedule and that any other item in a schedule to this Act has effect according to its terms. 



SCHEDULE 1 - MAIN AMENDMENTS

PART 1 - MAIN AMENDMENTS

Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995

Section 7(3) of the Classification Act sets out the different types of classifications for computer games in ascending order:

G— General

PG— Parental Guidance

M— Mature

MA15+— Mature Accompanied

RC— Refused Classification.

Section 7(2) provides for two extra classification categories for films, falling between MA15+ and RC, namely R18+ and X18+. This Bill introduces an adult category —R18+ (Restricted)—for computer games into the Classification Act, aligning computer games with films, in respect to R 18+.  Proposed subsection 7(3) introduces the new category of R18+ for computer games.

 

 

Item 1 - Subsection 7(3)

Item 1 inserts the category R 18+ (Restricted) after MA 15+ (Mature Accompanied) in an ascending list of computer game classification categories.  

Item 2 - Paragraph 20(1)(b)

Item 2 replaces the words ‘MA 15+’ with the words ‘MA15+ or R18+’.   This item will require the Classification Board to provide consumer advice for R 18+ computer games, in addition to the requirement to provide consumer advice for computer games classified PG, M, and MA 15+.

 

Item 3 - Subsection 42(5) (paragraph (c) of the definition of restricted decision )

Currently, section 42 provides that in relation to a decision of the Classification Board to classify a computer game, decisions to classify a game as MA15+ or RC are restricted.

Subsections 42(3) and 42(4) of the Classification Act provide guidance on which persons or bodies are aggrieved in respect of restricted decisions.

Item 3 inserts the category R18+ after the category MA15+ in paragraph 42(5)(c).

This amendment means that a decision of the Classification Board to classify a computer game MA15+, R18+ or RC will be a restricted decision for the purposes of Part 5 of the Classification Act.

The effect of the amendment will be that the provisions in subsections 42(3) and 42(4) in relation to persons aggrieved by a restricted decision will also now apply to persons aggrieved by a decision to classify a computer game R18+.

Item 4 - Application

This item provides that the amendments made by this Bill apply to classification decisions made by the Classification Board and Classification Review Board from the day of commencement of the Schedule, including decisions in relation to applications made prior to that day.

 

PART 2 - CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENTS

 

This Bill also makes a consequential amendment to subclause 30(4) of Schedule 7 paragraph (b) of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (BSA) to recognise the R 18+ category for computer games.

 

Item 5 - Subclause 30(4) of Schedule 7 (paragraph (b) of the definition of restricted classification ) in the BSA

Currently, paragraph 30(4)(b)  provides that in relation to a decision of the Classification Board to classify content consisting of a computer game, the classifications MA15+ or RC are restricted.

Subclauses 30(2) and 30(3), Schedule 7 of the BSA Act provide guidance on which persons or bodies are aggrieved in respect of restricted classifications.

Item 5 inserts the category R18+ after the category MA15+ in paragraph 30(4)(b).

This amendment means that a decision of the Classification Board to classify content consisting of a computer game as MA15+, R18+ or RC will be a restricted classification for the purposes of Schedule 7 of the BSA Act.

The effect of the amendment will be that the provisions in clause 30 of Schedule 7 in relation to persons aggrieved by a restricted classification will also now apply to persons aggrieved by a decision to classify content containing a computer game as R18+.