With the South Australian election still considered “too close to call”, it came as a shock to state and national gamers to hear that Michael Atkinson, the member for Croydon, decided to retire from his ministerial portfolio and resign as Attorney-General. Despite a 14% swing away from the Labor Party, Michael Atkinson has still easily retained his seat in Croydon.
GamingAngels staff Naomi and I were outside the Mana Bar when the news filtered through, which we shared eagerly with our fellow bar patrons. The news was met with immediate cheering, high-fives, and hugs. Breaking the news to bar owner Guy Blomberg, he performed his own victory dance in the Mana Bar. Several hours later, a new Bloodthirsty Cocktail was announced on Mana Bar’s Facebook page, with the gleeful declaration, “NO MOAR ATKINSON!”
However, what does Michael Atkinson’s resignation truly mean for both South Australian and national opinion on R18+ games? There is no doubt that Atkinson’s resignation is a victory, but is it only a small victory? After all, Atkinson has still won the seat for Croydon, and will still be in politics until the end of this electoral term (early 2014).
At present, the Federal Government discussion paper regarding game reclassification is still being reviewed and considered by Australia’s Attorney-General Department, headed by New South Wales minister, the Hon Robert McClelland. With over 55,000 entries, it is understandable that the date for publication of results has not been set.
We now also await the appointment of a new South Australian Attorney-General. Gamers4Croydon candidate Chris Prior states, “Opposition to the R18+ classification wasn’t actually a Labor policy; it was a Michael Atkinson policy.” It also seems as if a new crusade against R18+ classification would be practically political suicide in Australia. However, until the final postal votes are tallied in South Australia and a political party definitely elected as the new South Australian government, the nation will have to wait to see how the new South Australian Attorney-General will decide to handle the controversial issue. While game censorship is not a Labor policy, there is still no guarantee that the new Attorney-General won’t reignite the debate. With Atkinson still the member for Croydon, this means that he is still in the Labor backbench (i.e. a party member, but does not contribute to a ministerial portfolio). We can only wait and see whether his presence in the party room will still ignite vicious debate.
At this stage, the focus is now on all state Attorney-Generals and their response to the Federal Government’s discussion paper. No other Department of the Attorney-General has present strong disdain towards the game reclassification idea, but there is no guarantee that all of the state Attorney-Generals will vote along party lines. If Atkinson’s personal conscience could hold back the introduction of R18+ classification, it could happen again. Australia awaits the result of the discussion paper, and whether there will be unanimous support by the state representatives. Whether this will be a long wait is still unknown.
In the interim, we as gamers can still educate and inform about the need for R18+ classification. We can discuss the need for appropriate classification information for consumers, the right for responsible adults to be able to have access to mature content, and the benefit of streamlining classification information across all Australian media. The issue still requires support right up until a decision about the Federal discussion paper has been made.
For more information about the R18+ debate, please visit Naomi’s excellent summary article here: Australia’s Gamer Controversy: The R18+ Issue
(n.b. quotes from Gamers4Croydon’s Chris Prior referenced from http://www.itwire.com/it-industry-news/strategy/37738-gamers-4-croydon-hails-fantastic-atkinson-resignation)