Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) (Enforcement) Amendment Bill 2015

Written on the 16 September 2015


3 September 2015


Second reading 

GEORGIE CROZIER (LIB - Southern Metropolitan)


I am pleased to speak on the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) (Enforcement) Amendment Bill 2015.

This is a fairly straightforward bill that we are debating this afternoon. The bill is intended to complement amendments made in 2014 to the commonwealth Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 to improve the operation of the national classification scheme. The bill's administrative amendments to the Victorian act are designed to complement changes to the commonwealth act which improve and streamline functions in relation to the classification area.

The commonwealth amendments and the consequential amendments made in this bill relate to streamlining exemption arrangements for festivals and other events and for cultural institutions, and that is particularly important in relation to the state of Victoria. I think all members would agree that we have a proud multicultural history, and we want to ensure that those cultural institutions and elements are reflected well not only across this industry but right across the board in terms of cultural inclusion and acknowledgement of the many worthy contributions that different cultures make to our Victorian community.

The commonwealth amendments enable certain content to be classified using classification tools such as online questionnaires that deliver automatic decisions, and they expand exceptions to the modification rule so that films and computer games that are subject to certain types of modifications do not require classification again. The bill's intent is around those classification tools, the cultural exemptions that I have mentioned and modifications in relation to content that requires reclassification.

As we look at technology use across our community in 2015, it is clear that it is important that we keep up with advancements in the technology environment. This bill brings our legislation in line with streamlining processes and getting rid of bureaucratic impediments in the technologically advanced industry to which this bill relates. I congratulate our federal colleagues on ensuring that we have that approach, and I congratulate them on looking at reducing red tape and increasing productivity. It is all too important in the Australian economy, and in relation to what we are talking about it is certainly important to the Victorian economy.

Victoria has a proud history of keeping up with technological advancements. In relation to the film industry here in Victoria, in May of last year, in the previous Parliament, I spoke on the Filming Approval Bill 2014. That bill was also designed to reduce red tape and make it much easier for the film industry to work across the state. I pay tribute to the former Minister for Innovation, Ms Asher, the member for Brighton in the Assembly, for the extraordinary amount of work that she did in supporting this very important industry here in Victoria, and keeping Melbourne on the international stage, so to speak, in relation to the film industry. The Melbourne International Film Festival is an iconic event in Melbourne that attracts an audience each and every year, not only from Victoria but from right across the country and internationally, which has a huge interest in this area.

In line with that of course we have emerging film industries coming to our shores and wanting to operate in Victoria. I note in particular the Indian film industry, which has an enormous following now and is doing really extraordinary work, not only in Victoria and Australia but right around the world. It is having a huge impact on the patronage the industry attracts and the viewings it has. It is supporting that very significant industry not only in India but also here in Victoria.

There are many festivals and there are many film outlets. In my area of Southern Metropolitan Region it is a thriving sector. There are film festivals and there are films and other productions filmed in my region. In my contribution on the previous bill I mentioned a number of productions that were being made or that are made on a regular basis in my electorate. I referred to a list of well-known television programs that are viewed by Victorians regularly such as The Block. Other films have been made in areas of my electorate, such as Prahran, including The Wog Boy. On the Beach was filmed at Port Phillip Bay, One Perfect Day was filmed at Southbank and Patrick: Evil Awakens was filmed in Prahran and Brighton. Queen of the Damned was filmed in Ripponlea. They are just a few examples of the films, television programs and miniseries projects that have been undertaken in my electorate of Southern Metropolitan Region.

But this bill does not just relate to film, it also relates to the digital age, and I mentioned that at the outset when I spoke about emerging technologies. We have access to new and emerging technologies and are streaming content on various devices. Whether they be our mobile phones, our iPads, our laptops or the like, new technology is emerging all the time. I am not sure that I would wear a watch that has a television screen, but I know that international companies are developing these sorts of products all the time. It is a growth area. It is a growing industry, and we have to be mindful of that. This sector contributes an enormous amount to economic activity through the sale of devices using new technology and computer game downloads. As I said, we are seeing new applications of technology all the time.

As I highlighted at the outset, the bill looks to streamline the classification processes in the areas it covers. It seeks to cut red tape and to improve elements of productivity. I think that is going to benefit the industry as a whole, and it will also make improvements to the way it operates. It will also assist the Victorian economy by allowing these new and emerging industries to create opportunities not only for employment but for ongoing sales and distribution. My colleague in the lower house, the member for Bayswater, Ms Victoria, highlighted some of the growth predictions for the industry, and there will be significant income from sales.

I refer to an article headed 'Australian games sales surge in 2014', which appeared in IGEA News. The article reports that:

According to research released by the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA), the industry saw a total of $1.214 billion in traditional retail sales, up 7 per cent on 2013, along with $1.248 billion in digital sales, a jump of 39 per cent over last year.

Enormous economic activity is generated through sales of products in the video and computer games industries those digital elements I have spoken about. This bill looks at those industries as well as the more traditional film industry, which I spoke about earlier.

This is a fairly simple bill. It sets out a series of administrative amendments to align the Victorian act with commonwealth legislation. I think it is a common-sense approach to take, and the coalition does not oppose the bill.



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