1.6 Since 2010, there have been a significant number of inquiries and reviews covering matters related to the Inquiry. In 2010, the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) conducted a public consultation on an R 18+ classification for computer games. Commonwealth, state and territory censorship ministers subsequently reached in-principle agreement on the introduction of an R 18+ classification for computer games at the July 2011 meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) (now the Standing Council on Law and Justice). A bill to amend the Classification Act to establish an R 18+ classification category for computer games was introduced by the Minister for Home Affairs and the Minister for Justice, the Hon Jason Clare MP, in February 2012.
1.7 In 2010, the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) reported on a review of measures to increase accountability and transparency of the processes that would lead to certain online content being placed on the Refused Classification (RC) Content List for mandatory internet service provider (ISP) filtering. Arising out of this review, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy, committed the Government to completing a review of the scope of the RC category prior to introducing legislation for mandatory ISP-level filtering of RC content. This legislative change is intended to be accompanied by the suite of transparency and accountability measures, such as mechanisms for independent review of lists of blocked URLs and avenues for the review of classification decisions.
1.8 In June 2011, the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee released its report, Review of the National Classification Scheme: Achieving the Right Balance. The Committee, chaired by Senator Guy Barnett, made a total of 30 recommendations, relating to:
- the National Classification Code and Classification Guidelines;
- the classification of art works and removal of the ‘artistic merit’ defence;
- the transfer of classification powers to the Commonwealth;
- classification enforcement, training and accreditation for industry classifiers;
- terms of appointment for members of the Classification Board and the Classification Review Board; and
- the handling of complaints related to classification.
1.9 Also in June 2011, the Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety, chaired by Senator Dana Wortley, released its Interim Report, High-Wire Act: Cyber-Safety and the Young. The Joint Select Committee investigated young people’s use of the internet and possible cyber-safety threats, including cyber-bullying, exposure to illegal and inappropriate content, inappropriate social and health behaviours in an online environment (technology addiction, online promotion of anorexia, drug usage, underage drinking and smoking), identity theft, and breaches of privacy.
1.10 In July 2011, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs tabled its report, Reclaiming Public Space: Inquiry into the Regulation of Billboard and Outdoor Advertising. The Committee, chaired by Graham Perrett MP, made 19 recommendations relating to:
- the effectiveness of industry self-regulation by the Advertising Standards Board;
- codes of practice for outdoor advertising;
- complaints procedures for advertising content; and
- research into prevailing community standards.
1.11 While the Reclaiming Public Space report raised issues about the effectiveness of advertising industry self-regulation, it nonetheless ‘rejected the classification system as an inappropriate system for regulating outdoor advertising’.
1.12 Importantly, and in parallel with the ALRC’s Inquiry, the Convergence Review is being undertaken through the DBCDE, and is due to release its final report in the first quarter of 2012. The Convergence Review Committee, an independent committee chaired by Glen Boreham, was given the task of reviewing ‘the operation of media and communications legislation in Australia and to assess its effectiveness in achieving appropriate policy objectives for the convergent era’. The Convergence Review incorporates a statutory review of the operation of sch 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act.
1.13 The Convergence Review Committee released a series of five discussion papers for public comment, including a paper dealing with community standards, in September 2011, and in December 2011 released an Interim Report.
1.14 In September 2011, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy, announced an Independent Media Inquiry, chaired by the Hon Ray Finkelstein QC, to examine the pressures facing newspapers, online publications and their newsrooms, the operation of the Australian Press Council, as well as related issues pertaining to the ability of news media to operate according to regulations and codes of practice, and in the public interest. This inquiry will report to the Government by 28 February 2012.
1.15 Finally, in August 2011, the Office for the Arts in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet released its National Cultural Policy Discussion Paper. While a National Classification Scheme does not directly promote cultural creativity and innovation, it may have implications for the availability of culturally diverse media content, development of new technologies and the growth of creative industries, so recommendations need to be developed with an awareness of possible cultural policy implications.
 See Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department, Final Report on the Public Consultation on the Possible Introduction of an R18+ Classification for Computer Games (2010). This review received over 58,000 submissions, of which 98% favoured the introduction of an R 18+ classification for computer games.
 B O’Connor (Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Justice), ‘Draft R 18+ Computer Game Guidelines Released’ (Press Release, 25 May 2011); B O’Connor (Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Justice), ‘Agreement on R 18+ Classification for Computer Games’ (Press Release, 22 July 2011).
 Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Outcome of Public Consultation on Measures to Increase Accountability and Transparency for Refused Classification Material (2010).
 Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee, Review of the National Classification Scheme: Achieving the Right Balance (2011).
 Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety—Parliament of Australia, High-Wire Act: Cyber-Safety and the Young: Report (2011).
 House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs, Reclaiming Public Space: Inquiry into the Regulation of Billboards and Outdoor Advertising: Final Report (2011).
 Ibid, 36.
 Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Convergence Review: Terms of Reference (2010).
 As required by Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth) sch 7 cl 118.
 Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Convergence Review: Interim Report (2011).
 Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Independent Media Inquiry <www.dbcde.gov.au/digital_economy/independent_media_inquiry> at 23 January 2012.
 Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Office for the Arts, National Cultural Policy Discussion Paper (2011).