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Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Page: 12632

Mr BRENDAN O'CONNOR (GortonMinister for Privacy and Freedom of Information, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Justice) (16:19): I thank the member for Throsby for his contribution, and the members for Moreton, Stirling and Solomon. This is an important bill. Consumers now have ready access to an increasing number and range of computer games on a variety of platforms including on mobile devices and other network services. The business model for computer game design and delivery is increasingly moving to mobile and online markets. The numbers of mobile device and online games currently being introduced into the Australian market presents a number of practical challenges for regulators. It is for this reason we are introducing this bill.

At present, the significant majority of mobile devices and online computer games are not classified prior to being made available to consumers, in breach of state and territory laws concerning the sale, demonstration and advertising of computer games. Indeed, I raised these matters at the attorneys-general meeting earlier this year because of the practical problems we have in applying the laws as they stand. If legal requirements were enforced, the National Classification Scheme, in its present form, would be unable to sustain the administrative burden that this would impose. It would result in significant compliance costs for industry and may threaten the existence of small operators. This bill is intended to provide an interim solution. It will address concerns raised by industry and the director of the Classification Board about the legal requirements and the obligations for the classification of computer games that are playable on mobile devices and online.

The government is committed to ensuring that our classification system maintains community confidence. To this end, the Australian Law Reform Commission has been asked to conduct a review of classification in Australia in light of changes in technology, media convergence and global availability of media content. As part of this review, the commission is considering the best way to classify computer games. This review will inform the government's consideration of long-term reforms for the classification of mobile device and online games. I commend the bill.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Ordered that this bill be reported to the House without amendment.