Gamers4Croydon has hailed the decision by South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson to step down as “fantastic”, as the party nervously waits to find out if it won a Legislative Council seat in the state’s election yesterday.
Atkinson 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. Gamers4Croydon was formed to bring formal political process to oppose the Attorney-General in his own seat of Croydon.
The Attorney-General resigned from his role (but not parliament) today after facing an estimated 14.3 percent voter backlash in his seat over the R18+ issue and other concerns, including a 3.7 percent challenge from Gamers 4 Croydon candidate Kat Nicholson.
“We’re obviously incredibly pleased about it — it was one of our big goals for the election and for the party generally. Having Mick Atkinson no longer as Attorney-General is just fantastic,” said Chris Prior, Gamers4Croydon president and Legislative Council candidate today.
Croydon candidate Nicholson (pictured, top right) said she didn’t believe her party could take all the credit for Atkinson’s resignation, but she said its pressure had had a major influence.
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.
Both candidates noted they believed attorneys-general around the nation would be foolhardy to take up Atkinson’s flag and continue to block an R18+ classification for video games.
“I think it’s clear that any opposition to the R18+ rating would be political suicide,” said Nicholson, noting her vote tally placed Gamers4Croydon ahead of other major parties like the Democrats and Family First in Croydon, despite only having been founded six months ago and conducting a campaign with just $15,000 in donations.
With the final results of the state election still up in the air, South Australian Premier Mike Rann has not claimed victory yet in the state, nor announced a new Attorney-General to replace Atkinson.
However both Nicholson and Prior noted they believed Atkinson’s controversial crusade against the proposed R18+ rating would die with his political career. “Opposition to the R18+ classification wasn’t actually a Labor policy,” said Prior. “It was a Michael Atkinson policy.”
“I suspect it will end up being the same as most other parties in Australia — whether at a state level or at a Federal level, where they’ve been saying they’re going to wait and see what comes from the discussion paper.”
Given Nicholson’s tally in Croydon, Prior said various state governments would have to now be asking themselves “how intelligent it would be” to continue blocking an R18+ classification. “You’d definitely be taking a close look at your margins and how much you can afford to possibly keep irritating gamers on this issue,” he said.
And Gamers4Croydon’s job isn’t done yet — it will now consider its next moves and future direction.
Legislative Council seat still up in the air
Based on preliminary results — with 72.61 percent of the vote counted — the ABC’s election results site has used predictive estimates to rule Prior (pictured, bottom left) out of taking a seat in the state’s Legislative Council.
However, Prior said in reality he would be waiting for a week or so to find out whether he would be part of the new Parliament, due to the complexity of the preference allocation process in the Legislative Council. “Until the final results are in, there’s no way really to know,” he said.
The site currently has Prior holding 0.81 percent of the primary vote — or just over 6,000 votes, placing Gamers 4 Croydon as the ninth most popular party. The Electoral Commission of South Australia also has similar data on its site.
Prior said it was obvious that the Liberal and Labor parties had won a certain amount of seats based on the primary vote, but that some of the dividing lines between who would pick up a seat and who wouldn’t could come down to “a few dozen votes” due to complex preference arrangement, with the situation being able to change drastically with about 200,000 votes still be counted.
“I just don’t know — it’s really sooth-saying at the moment,” he said, when asked about what his gut feeling was. The candidate said for the next week he’d be “trying to avoid thinking about it” and catching up on sleep lost during the campaign.
Gamers4Croydon had an initial celebration of its effort on Saturday night, before the news about Atkinson had come in. The party faithful, tired from manning polling booths all day, chilled out and had a chat while watching the results roll in, said Prior. Nicholson added it had been a late one, but she had found a good cure for a sore head the next morning.
“I work up with a hangover, but immediately found out the news about Michael Atkinson. It completely distracted me — and kind of cured my hangover,” she said. “I had to read it about three times.”
Image credits: Gamers4Croydon