Violent computer games have no "greater impact" on players than movies or music videos, government research has found just days ahead of a decision expected to allow the sale of R18+ games. Games are now limited to a top rating of MA15+ which means violent titles are either banned outright or - like the blockbuster Call of Duty: Black Ops - have some graphic content removed. In some cases, games have been given a MA15+ rating here despite copping an 18+ rating overseas. Attorneys-general will meet in Canberra tomorrow to discuss an R18+ gaming classification, like films and literature.
A federal government review of research into the effects of violent video games has been too hasty to dismiss studies showing links to aggression, the Australian Christian Lobby says. Classification ministers across Australia are considering the need for an R18+ computer games rating. The highest rating for computer games in Australia is MA15+ and many are rejected for sale because their content is deemed too violent, offensive or sexually explicit. The ministers called for a review of available research into violent video games to help them with their decision.
Some 98.2 per cent of individual submissions responding to the Federal Government’s R18+ computer games classification discussion paper support the introduction of an adult rating for games, according to the Attorney-General’s Department. Just 1089 of the total 59,678 individual submissions did not support the introduction of an R18+ classification for games. The Attorney-General’s Department had noted that the bulk of submissions — some 34,938 — had come via games retailer EB Games’ in-store campaign supporting the rating. Some 16,056 had come via lobby group Grow Up Australia.
The state's governing Labor and Greens parties have taken a hit in the latest opinion poll, which has revealed a surge in support for the Liberals. The November EMRS poll of voting intentions found support for the ALP has dropped six percentage points since August to 23 per cent while support for the Greens has fallen three percentage points to 20 percent. The Liberal Party recorded a 5 per cent increase in support and there was a 5 per cent increase in the number of undecided voters. Premier David Bartlett recorded a large fall in support as preferred premier in the past three months, with a four percentage point drop to 23 per cent. Mr Bartlett enjoyed the support of 29 per cent of those polled as recently as February.
Lobby groups that campaign against government policy will be entitled to claim charity status after a court ruling yesterday. The court swept aside Australian Taxation Office restrictions on charities' advocacy work, pronouncing that such campaigning could itself be a charitable activity entitling tax deductibility -- as long as it was intended for public benefit. This opens the door to organisations that lobby for refugees' rights or other causes to apply for charitable status for the first time. Sam McLean, a spokesman for activist group GetUp!, said the organisation would "carefully consider whether to apply" in light of the ruling. He said: "We hadn't considered applying for charitable status, because our chances were low" under the prevailing rules. But "even if we were eligible, we might choose not to take it up", because it might appear inappropriate.
It is not capitalism but social democratic parties that have suffered since the GFC. The fascinating Victorian election result should be studied by students of politics the world over, for it showcases some of the most important ideological and political dynamics at work in the Western world today. First, we can now proclaim that there was no benefit to centre-left parties from the global financial crisis. Since the GFC we have seen Labour lose office in Britain, Australian Labor lose its parliamentary majority after just one term in office, the centre-right Republicans gain 60 seats in the US House of Representatives from the centre-left Democrats, and the most respectable Labor government in Australia defeated in Victoria. I certainly wouldn't interpret this as a global swing to the Right, but it does show that those pundits, Kevin Rudd briefly among them, who thought the GFC would advantage the Left everywhere were dead wrong.
Labor is caught in a vice between its blue-collar roots and its university idealists. John Brumby's loss in Victoria explodes the myth that smooth transitions of leadership guarantee electoral longevity. Brumby failed because he did not break decisively from the Bracks' era and was also too closely associated with its big decisions. It was business as usual in Victoria under a less attractive leader. Problems got worse and no one was accountable for their mistakes. The response to the Black Saturday fires was a case in point. But reports of Labor's demise are much exaggerated. The two-party system guarantees its major party status. The Labor machine is resilient and quickly regroups in opposition.
The states have until May next year to introduce mandatory pre-commitment limits on poker machines. If they do not, the federal government will use its commonwealth tax powers to crack down on problem gambling. Families, Housing and Community Services Minister Jenny Macklin is under pressure to honour a deal the Gillard government reached with independent Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie on gambling reform.
Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan tried to hose down internal calls to embrace nuclear power yesterday as Labor's Left faction regarded the campaign as payback for its advocation of a gay marriage policy change. A group of MPs and senators from the ALP's Right said they would argue at the party's national conference in December next year for Labor to change its anti-nuclear energy policy. ''Where people's energy comes from is more important to them than any issue concerning people's sexuality,'' said the NSW senator Steve Hutchins.
Victorians are arguably Australia's most parochial lot. Scratch any Victorian and they'll tell you their state leads the country in most pursuits. And Melbourne? Well Melbourne is the centre of the universe – both known and unknown. Australia's sporting and business capital? Melbourne. Best events, best entertainment, best food? Melbourne, Melbourne and Melbourne. And in my line of work – providing support for disadvantaged Australians – Victorians pride themselves on being the most progressive and providing the most innovative social programs to help people in need.
William Cooper is recognised as one of the founders of Aboriginal activism - he fought for the plights of many oppressed groups as well as his own people. This weekend he is being honoured for the protest he led to the German consulate following Kristallnacht - a dark night in Germany and Austria's history when thousands of Jews were sent to prison camps and nearly a hundred killed.
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February 23, 2018
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