Controversial South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson (pictured) has reportedly resigned from the role in the wake of ongoing public criticism and a voter backlash in his seat of Croydon in this weekend’s state election.
The Labor politician has for some time stood in the way of lobbying efforts by the video game industry and gamers themselves to create an R18+ classification for games in Australia. In addition, he has faced criticism over his defence of legislation requiring online political comment during state elections to be accompanied by personal details.
AdelaideNOW reported at midday today the news and that Atkinson would remain in parliament until the next election in 2014.
He did not want to leave early in his term and create a by-election scenario, AdelaideNOW reported, with the Labor government led by Mike Rann expected to only have a slender majority after the election yesterday. In addition, Atkinson wanted to make room for new blood in the Labor ministry.
According to the ABC’s election site, with 74.4 percent of the vote counted, Atkinson is predicted to safely win his electorate of Croydon with a total of 63.7 percent of the vote. However, the site notes that there was a 14.3 percent swing against Atkinson. Gamers 4 Croydon candidate Kat Nicholson, who campaigned on a pro-R18+ video game classification ticket, took 3.7 percent of the vote — or about 587 votes.
Gamers 4 Croydon candidate for the state’s Legislative Council, Chris Prior, did not pick up a seat in the election, winding up with 0.81 percent of the vote — or just over 6,000 votes, with 72.61 percent of the vote counted, according to the ABC site.
This meant after preferences were taken into account, Prior was excluded from winning a seat — despite the fact that his showing meant Gamers 4 Croydon was the ninth most popular party in the Legislative Council.
The news of Atkinson’s departure from the Labor front bench is set to spark a round of speculation about what policies regarding the R18+ classification the new South Australian Attorney-General will put forth. The Federal Government is currently considering more than 55,000 submissions to a discussion paper about whether it should implement a R18+ rating category for video games, with the majority of those expected to have come from EB Games customers in support of such a scheme.
However, there must be unanimous agreement between the respective ministers in the Commonwealth, state and territorial governments before the National Classification Code can be modified.
Image credit: Government of South Australia