The Australian government has introduced legislation to reform the National Classification Scheme, primarily to make
it faster and more cost effective to classify content for mobile platforms and online games.
Films that are released in 2D and 3D versions won't have to be classified twice, a measure for which the industry had long lobbied.
Independent distributors had also complained about the costs of having small films classified but their push for cheaper fees fell on deaf ears.
However festivals and cultural organisations will no longer have to submit cumbersome applications to the Classification Board for a formal exemption before they screen material, providing they satisfy criteria in the Classification Act.
The legislation will remove the need for reclassification when minor changes are made to computer games such as software updates or bug fixes, or when a new song is added to a karaoke game.
The reforms are the government's first response to proposals by the Australian Law Reform Commission's review of the National Classification Scheme.
The Commission delivered further recommendations:
Abolish the legally binding age restriction on MA15+ rating so it becomes an advisory guidance.
Apply uniform classification categories to content aired across all platforms, including online and mobile.
Rename the RC (refused classification) category as Prohibited.
Retain the Classification Board for films and computer games but create a single agency to regulate the classification of media content, handle complaints and educate the public about the scheme.
Empower the Classification Board to review appeals, replacing the independent Classification Review Board.
But the prospects for widespread changes were ruled out by the state and federal Attorneys-General, who indicated last year that they would merely consider areas for short-term reforms.
The Australian Federal Police, the Australian Securities Investment Commission (ASIC), and one unnamed agency have
indicated to the government that they would likely seek to keep using powers in the Telecommunications Act to force ISPs to block websites.
In April 2013, following a bungle by ASIC that resulted in accidentally blocking customer access to 250,000 websites when the agency was just seeking to block websites associated with investment fraud, it was revealed that three government
agencies had been using Section 313 of the Telecommunications Act to compel ISPs to block customer access to websites on their behalf.
Following public backlash, and amid cries of censorship and criticism over the lack of transparency over the power, the then-Labor government promised to review the power, and improve the oversight and transparency of the process.
At the time, despite the controversy, it seems that internally agencies had indicated to the government that they intended to continue using the power. A briefing document from a meeting convened by the Department of Communications in May 2013,
and published online under Freedom of Information revealed that the three agencies the department had discovered to be using section 313 indicated that they will continue to so in the future.
The heavily-redacted briefing document showed the police had used the power 21 times between June 2011 and February 2013 to request ISPs to block websites listed on the Interpol worst of child abuse websites , and would continue to do so in
The Department of Communications told ZDNet in December that it was still in consultation with government agencies on the use of the power.
Attorney-General George Brandis indicated last month that he is considering giving the power to the Federal Court to give injunctions to ISPs to force the companies to block copyright-infringing websites such as The Pirate Bay.
An advertising poster of two men in a passionate embrace has been censored by
Brisbane City Council'.
Lifestyle chairman Krista Adams has deemed the image too confronting and banned it, pending a review by the Advertising Standards Board.
The image in question, a parody of Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr's passionate beach embrace in the 1953 film From Here to Eternity , was designed as a publicity poster for the Brisbane Queer Film Festival which begins at the Powerhouse
on March 28.
The ban could potentially expose the council to liability under the anti-discrimination act, by anybody who feels aggrieved by this decision.
While many in Brisbane's gay community are 'outraged', Powerhouse artistic director Kris Stewart played down council's decision.
We got word from Krista there were reservations about one of the three images we had planned. My sense was it is a very sexualised image and the decision would have been the same whether it was two men or a man and a woman.
Aldi supermarket has pulled an Australia Day T-shirts from its stores amid twitter claims
that designs featured on the garments were somehow racist.
The range of promotional T-shirts proclaiming AUSTRALIA EST 1788 were scheduled to go on sale on this week in the lead up to January 26.
Twitter users claimed the design was racist and culturally insensitive to indigenous Australians, who inhabited the continent for thousands of years before Europeans arrived.
The 'outrage' prompted Aldi to apologise on Twitter for any offence taken before announcing that it had decided to remove one of its Australia Day special buy products, the Adults Australia Day T-shirt and Singlet from retail .