26 March 2014


The Minister for Justice has announced the "first tranche" of reforms to the National Classifications Scheme, with introduction of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Amendment (Classification Tools and Other Measures) Bill 2014 (Cth) to amend the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (Cth).

The Bill is intended to -
  • broaden the scope of existing exempt film categories and streamline exemption arrangements for festivals and cultural institutions
  • enable certain content to be classified using classification tools (such as online questionnaires that deliver automated decisions) 
  •  create an explicit requirement in the Classification Act to display classification markings on all classified content 
  • expand the exceptions to the modifications rule so that films and computer games which are subject to certain types of modifications do not require classification again
  • enable the Attorney-General’s Department to notify law enforcement authorities of potential Refused Classification content without having the content classified first, to help expedite the removal of extremely offensive or illegal content from distribution
The Minister states that the Bill will
reform the National Classification Scheme to identify opportunities for faster, more reliable and cost effective classification of large volumes of content such as mobile and online games. ... The reforms remove the need for reclassification when minor changes are made to computer games, such as software updates, bug fixes, or even when a new song is added to a karaoke game. 
Films that were modified to play on the small screen of an aeroplane in-flight service, or movies changing from 2D to 3D, will no longer require reclassification. Festivals and cultural organisations like the ‘Australian Centre of the Moving Image’ and events such as ‘Tropfest’ will no longer be required to submit cumbersome applications to the Director of the Classification Board for a formal exemption before they screen material, so long as they satisfy criteria in the Classification Act. 
The Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Amendment (Classification Tools and Other Measures) Bill 2014 amends the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 to implement a number of ‘first tranche’ reforms that were agreed to by Commonwealth, state and territory Ministers responsible for classification. 
These ‘first tranche’ reforms are based on a number of recommendations from the Australian Law Reform Commission’s review into the National Classification Scheme, and will be limited to the content currently regulated by the scheme. 
“We need to improve the effectiveness of this scheme, enhance compliance with state and territory classification laws and provide more classification information, specifically to parents and young people,” Mr Keenan said. 
“Ultimately we aim to deliver benefits to industry by reducing administrative red tape and the regulatory burden, whilst continuing to provide consumers with important classification information,” Mr Keenan said.