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Australia Censorship Government Games Politics

Anti-Gamer South Australian Attorney General Quits 104

dogbolter writes "South Australian Attorney General, Michael Atkinson, infamous for the banning of R18+ rated games and the censoring of political comment in Australia, has quit. The recent South Australian election provided a massive swing against Atkinson's governing labor party. As a direct result of the South Australian election result, he is standing down. Hopefully someone with half a clue will assume the vacant post and overturn the decision to ban adult oriented computer games."
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Anti-Gamer South Australian Attorney General Quits

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  • by ihaveamo ( 989662 ) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @04:29AM (#31555890)
    A lot of game shops have petitions to sign - Aussies, if you are dropping by one to pick up the latest austrlian-modified (aka heavily-censored) version of whatever, ask to sign the petition. (I found one to sign, right at the front of the store "GAME", in the Brisbane CBD). More info about the craziness of no R18+ games for Australia is Here [r18games.com.au]
  • by Gadget_Guy ( 627405 ) * on Sunday March 21, 2010 @05:08AM (#31556028)

    how is the SA AG's view on computer games flawed? It should be obvious to anyone that he believes that the views of his constituency...are not supportive of a "wider range" of content in video games.

    First of all, he doesn't believe that. In a recent letter he wrote about this, he stated "this issue has little traction with my constituents who are more concerned with real-life issues than home entertainment in imaginary worlds". So it seems that he is not representing the will of his constituents, but he thinks that they don't care about it.

    As to why it is flawed, that is because it is so out of step with the rest of the country. Adding an R rating for video games requires the agreement of all Attorneys General of all the states. Michael Atkinson is the only one who will not agree to it, despite the evidence suggesting that the majority of Australians support the introduction.

    The main problem is that it doesn't stop kids from seeing adult games. In fact, because there is no R rating, games that would have received that tend to get MA15+ ratings. Those that aren't banned, that is.

  • by AbRASiON ( 589899 ) * on Sunday March 21, 2010 @05:16AM (#31556068) Journal

    To my knowledge he didn't 'ban' R18+ games, he simply didn't agree with the vote - which was required by each AG to get it through.
    You could say he effectively banned them but it's more his lack of support than anything.

    Also he stepped back into a backbench role, he's still in politics although yes we do REALLY hope someone with a clue steps up for his old position.
    As a Victorian I'm glad to see him go, the capital of this one state of South Australia, Adelaide is referred to as "the city of churches" (quite seriously) these morons have been causing the rest of the country for too long.

    Now if we can just get rid of this Stephen Conroy idiot, maybe Australia won't be a laughing stock for tech news and articles for a while again.
    Good riddance Atkinson, good riddance.

  • by Xiroth ( 917768 ) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @05:25AM (#31556094)

    Every independent survey run found wide support for an R rating for games amoung the Australian community: Link [smh.com.au] (reference in there to a survey finding 88% support). Atkinson is considerably more conservative than his base on the issue - this is (or was) a politician's individual crusade, not him representing his electorate.

  • by Gadget_Guy ( 627405 ) * on Sunday March 21, 2010 @05:27AM (#31556108)

    I don't think this is quite the scalp everyone is looking for..

    It is good enough. He was the one person in Australia who was preventing the R18+ rating from being introduced. He wasn't just one politician who was against it, he was someone who had veto power over the entire thing. Now that he is out of that key role, the way is clear for all Attorneys General to allow the change to go through.

  • by Eskarel ( 565631 ) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @07:34AM (#31556578)

    It's mostly because what he's trying to do and what's actually doing are two very different things.

    Here in Australia, anything which is Refused Classification(RC) is, in effect, banned. If/When the new internet filter gets put in then apparently even websites talking about RC games or other material will be blocked in part or whole. Since there is no R rating, anything which would receive one is instead RC.

    This has a number of negative effects of course. For the purposes of this guy one of the most important is that the ratings board which is of course "at arms length from the political process" which is supposed to mean unaffected by politics, but really means unaccountable to voters, despite their generally rather stodgy views do not particularly like banning things. They perhaps feel that banning things is a really rather serious action to take.

    This means that a lot of material which should probably be in the lower end of the R rating band gets pushed down into the MA15+ band, because while it's not exactly appropriate it's not exactly ban worthy either. This means that the upper end of MA15+ is full of a lot of stuff which really isn't necessarily appropriate for someone who is 15 years old to be able to buy on their own without mum and dad being vaguely aware that it's being bought.

    Personally I dislike games like manhunt and the other over the top gore games and wouldn't be at all sad if they had never been made at all, but I also feel that Fallout 3, while I personally loved it, is probably a bit borderline for some younger players. Under the current law games like that get pushed into the MA15+ rating zone when they would probably be more comfortable in the R region(and of course the drug animations could have remained in all copies of the game rather than being cut because of this very reason).

    Atkinson's position is counterproductive to what he actually wants to accomplish.

  • by romiz ( 757548 ) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @07:43AM (#31556606)
    And in the meanwhile, in Switzerland, politicians have passed the first step for making a law [mcvuk.com] targeting all games that "require cruel acts of violence against humans and humanlike creatures for in-game success”. The objective of this law is to make it forbidden to produce, advertise, import, sell or distribute such games. It seems, however, that this is not the final vote, and there is a real possibility that public outrage [www.tdg.ch], from gamers as well as games companies, could bring the politicians to back down on this, and simply make it forbidden in the law to sell 18-rated PEGI games to minors.
  • by Philip_the_physicist ( 1536015 ) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @09:42AM (#31557152)

    The point is that a cabinet minister has to consider more than just the views of his electorate, he has to work for the good of the whole state. Approximately 11200 people voted for Michael Atkinson (as their first preference) in the lower house, whereas about 8300 voted for Gamers 4 Croydon as their first preference for the Upper house (just shy of 10000 votes were distributed to their candidate before he was excluded), and several of the other minor parties also support an r18+ rating for games.
    These is also the question of the harm done to South Australia's reputation interstate, especially as the premier has often spoken of the need to attract young interstate migrants to the state.

    The key point is whether those 11000 people voted for him because of his policy on games (unlikely, there was a 14% swing against him, and only a 3% swing to the Family First Party (Christian right and the main "moral guardians") (indeed, Gamers 4 Croydon got more votes there than the FFP, suggesting that censorship wasn't the main issue there).

  • Not only games (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ninth Marion ( 1310141 ) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @10:43AM (#31557504)
    Atkinson's censorship of games is a part of a pattern of behaviour. This is the man who also passed a law making anonymous speech illegal specifically for this election campaign. [techdirt.com]
    He then had the cheek, after intense criticism, to say if he was re-elected he'd remove it after the election. It's likely that this was more damaging to the Labor party in this election than the R18 issue.

    I am very happy to hear he no longer holds office, as I detest the man and what he stands for. Australia is now a slightly better place. Next up, hopefully, Conroy and the internet filter.
  • by exomondo ( 1725132 ) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @08:41PM (#31561938)

    Now if we can just get rid of this Stephen Conroy idiot, maybe Australia won't be a laughing stock for tech news and articles for a while again.

    If possible please help to get the word out to send emails of support to Joe Hockey, an MP who has strongly and vocally opposed the internet filter and is doing a damn good job! If we as a community show support so such people im sure they are likely to continue with those actions!

  • by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @09:10PM (#31562204)

    Here in Australia, anything which is Refused Classification(RC) is, in effect, banned.

    This is wrong (at the very least misleading), please stop spreading it.

    It is not, emphatically not illegal to posses RC material. It is illegal to sell, hire or publicly exhibit RC material. The classification law covers sale, hire and public exhibition, not possession.

    RC is not effectively banned, there is a separate classification for outright banning which makes it illegal to posses material on this list. It is a specific list not blanket ban as any material without a rating is treated as RC, this includes material that would be rated as E but was never submitted for classification.

    I can personally testify that getting RC material past Australian customs is quite easy, they were more concerned about which country my guitar was made in rather then the DVD's I bought in SE Asia, certainly at least some of which were RC.

  • by bug1 ( 96678 ) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @09:43PM (#31562464)

    The poll results from the mentioned article are below, 96% want him gone, he should have been pushed a long time ago, but at least he knows his time is up.

    Thanks for voting!
    Are you happy that Michael Atkinson will no longer be South Australia's Attorney-General?

            * Yes 96.57% (1211 votes)
            * No 3.43% (43 votes)

    Total votes: 1254

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 22, 2010 @06:19AM (#31564964)
    Importing RC is illegal - you most certainly could have been warned/fined/jailed for importing RC material! I might be legal to possess, but if they take away any legal means to obtain it (via Internet censorship) then they are doing the same thing.

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"