Some days you just wake up to good news:
R18+ video games are a step closer to being allowed in Australia following the resignation of South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson.
Mr Atkinson’s decision to leave the front bench means he will no longer be in a position to vote on changes to the country’s classification system, including the introduction of an R18+ rating for games.
The decision came after voters gave the Rann Government a kicking in last weekend’s state election. Mr Atkinson won his seat of Croydon comfortably but still suffered a 14.3 per cent swing against him, according to ABC reports.
Whilst a lot of gamers out there were hoping for an epic dethroning of Atkinson from his position by the Gamers 4 Croydon party who thrust themselves into the limelight on a single issue it was always far more likely that he’d walk away with a comfortable win. However you’d be forgiven for not expecting that Atkinson would step down after he was elected (I sure didn’t) but in retrospect its classic politics. Remember during the last federal election where there were rumours circulating that John Howard was planning to retire part way through his term if he was reelected. He had already lost the election thanks to his bungled Work Choices legislation but the notion that a vote for Howard was actually a vote for Costello didn’t win them any favours. Naturally if Atkinson had announced he would retire from the front bench before the election you can almost guarantee he wouldn’t of won his seat again, especially with the large swing against him regardless.
So with Atkinson out of the way and the next meeting of the attorney-generals in April it looks like we might see the introduction of a R18+ classification to Australia sometime in the near future. There’s still a lot of work to be done in this area (How can the games be displayed in retail stores? Will there be required ID checks? Etc.) however with none of the representatives agreeing with Atkinson’s stance it looks like a sure thing that the classification will be put through. Couple this with the fact that if Aktinson’s replacement does give R18+ the tick they’re almost guaranteed to be looked upon more favourably, to the tune of 3.7%.
That’s probably the biggest surprise of the election as Gamers 4 Croydon managed to grab a considerable percentage of the votes. Whilst they’re far from a single issue party their claim to fame was the push for a R18+ rating. Atkinson did his best to cut them off with crazed legislation like banning posters during the election campaign (the cheapest and one of the most effective ways for smaller parties to get noticed) but they still managed to make quite an impression on the people of South Australia. They’ve stated that they’ll be undergoing a transformation soon to ditch the direct association with gamers in their party name (as the issue will be pretty much settled in the coming months) but they will still carry on with the G4C tag. For all the work they’ve put into it I’m sure we’ll continue to hear from them for a long time to come and I hope they keep their progressive technological bent.
For what its worth I’m happy this thorn in my side will be disappearing soon. Whilst I was only marginally affected by the lack of a R18+ rating (Curse you Australian Left 4 Dead 2!) it was still something that needed to be rectified in order to make all entertainment mediums in Australia as equal as they should be. The next few months will see a flurry of activity to get this whole issue off the drawing board and into reality and it really couldn’t come any sooner.
It has been all quiet on the western front when it comes to censorship in Australia. Even though the Internet filter test produced surprisingly good results which would lead you to believe that implementation is just around the corner but the last month has seen not a single word uttered about it. With parliament resuming this week it’s sure to come into the spotlight again very soon. If it doesn’t then that will say quite a lot about the government’s intentions for implementing the thing, it may get delayed until after the election in the hopes of saving the tech vote.
However it appears that one of my most hated politicians, Attorney-General Michael Atkins, is peddling his censorship clap-trap in his home state of South Australia. It would seem now that if you want to make a comment about the upcoming election there you have to provide your name, rank and serial number (just kidding, name and postcode will do the trick) which the government can then keep on record for 6 months:
The law, which was pushed through last year as part of a raft of amendments to the Electoral Act and supported by the Liberal Party, also requires media organisations to keep a person’s real name and full address on file for six months, and they face fines of $5000 if they do not hand over this information to the Electoral Commissioner.
Attorney-General Michael Atkinson denied that the new law was an attack on free speech.
“The AdelaideNow website is not just a sewer of criminal defamation, it is a sewer of identity theft and fraud,” Mr Atkinson said.
“There is no impinging on freedom of speech, people are free to say what they wish as themselves, not as somebody else.”
Well it would be nice if you could stifle public debate right before and election, especially when there’s been several campaigns set up against you because of your idiotic and hyperbolic views on things as trivial as a R18+ rating for games. He specifically mentioned the website AdelaideNow which has run several articles critical of his actions. I really shouldn’t be surprised at the vitriol that he spews when he gets any negative press (read my previous post about Atkins to see what I mean, the guy is a total fruitloop). All this was an attempt to shutdown the bad publicity he had been getting that he couldn’t do anything about.
That story was run at about 8:30am yesterday and you can imagine the supporters of the AdelaideNow site were in a bit of an uproar about the whole thing. Well over a thousand people posted up their comments with 90% of them against it. This sewer of criminal defamation, identity theft and fraud apparently has quite a voice since just over 14 hours after he robbed all South Australians of their rights to anonymity, he back peddled faster than anyone thought possible:
After a furious reaction on AdelaideNow to The Advertiser’s exclusive report on the new laws, Mr Atkinson at 10pm released this statement: “From the feedback we’ve received through AdelaideNow, the blogging generation believes that the law supported by all MPs and all political parties is unduly restrictive. I have listened.
“I will immediately after the election move to repeal the law retrospectively.”
Mr Atkinson said the law would not be enforced for comments posted on AdelaideNow during the upcoming election campaign, even though it was technically applicable.
“It may be humiliating for me, but that’s politics in a democracy and I’ll take my lumps,” he continued in the statement.
Far be it from me to look a gift horse in the mouth but does anyone else see through this thin veiled attempt to look like he’s completely reformed his position? Using the term “after the election” essentially amounts to “once I’m re-elected” which gives your average Joe the idea that if we don’t vote him in the next guy might not appeal it. He’s trying to play the remorseful wolf here after he’s slaughtered all the lambs in the field. I still don’t trust Atkins as far as I can throw him.
It’s not just his stance on censorship (both in speech and our right to by games for adults) that gets my goad up, it’s his hyperbolic vitriol that he spews on basically any issue he’s involved in. From using tortured refugee victims as an opposition to R18+ games to lashing out with accusations that people don’t exist I begin to feel that my previous label of fruitloop might be a little too kind.
With Gamers 4 Croydon standing up candidates in both houses there’s at least going to be some competition for the seat come election time. The seat of Croydon is unfortunately very safe and Atkins is unlikely to be dethroned over the issues that I harp on here, but the reaction of the AdelaideNow crowd shows the beginnings of a movement against Atkins. So whilst we probably won’t see a new Attorney General this election for Croydon we may see some movement on the issues that have stagnated under his rule. That is of course if he wants to keep his seat for another term after this one.
We can only hope.