Belying the old adage that says quitters never win and winners never quit, Australia is coming off quite the weekend in which incumbent anti-game South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson won re-election then resigned his front bench seat.
Pre-election, Atkinson claimed that no one cared about the lack of an R18+ rating in Australia other than gamers and also predicted that the Gamer4Croydon party would “struggle” to receive one percent of the votes.
Well, in Croydon, according to ABC.net election data, Gamers4Croydon’s candidate against Atkinson, Kat Nicholson, managed to achieve 3.7 percent of the vote, assisting in eating away at 14.4 percent of Atkinson’s vote from the previous election. Despite that erosion, Atkinson still won rather easily however, garnering 52.7 percent of the vote. Nicholson came in fifth out of seven candidates in the Croydon suburb, besting candidates from the Family First Party and Australian Democratic Party.
In a post on the G4C website entitled "Here’s Your 1%," President Chris Prior expressed pride at what the upstart party accomplished:
With so very little to work with, we have contributed to two other incumbents losing their seats, and all of our lower house candidates polled higher than the 1% we apparently wouldn’t get. In the upper house, we outpolled the majority of groups, including a significant number with more resources, more experience, and much more time.
Atkinson then stunned the country, electing to vacate his role as Attorney General for South Australia, citing a desire to spend more time with his family as one factor contributing to his decision. Atkinson will remain in Parliament through 2014, but will be replaced as AG, which GameSpot reports could take a week or two. A spokesperson from Atkinson’s office told GameSpot that the caucus would decide the new minister, and added that “Atkinson has made this decision by himself,” and that he “wants to spend more time with his family as he has been here for 21 years and he wants to give younger backbenchers a shot in cabinet.”
Australian Game Developers Association President Tom Crago, speaking to Computer World, hoped Atkinson’s resignation would improve the chance of an R18+ rating category for games being added, saying, “With Atkinson out of the fray, we have a better chance [of passing the reform].”
Gamers4Croydon’s Chris Prior also appears to have come up short in his bid for a seat on South Australia’s Legislative Council. The top 11 vote-getting candidates win a spot on the Council and Prior was not among them. He garnered 0.83 percent of the vote (with just about 73.0 percent of the total vote counted).
While gamers and the game industry are celebrating Atkinson’s resignation, keep in mind that the addition of an R18+ videogame rating category requires amendments to three federal classifications and requires unanimous consent among all state, territory and federal Attorney Generals, so a single dissenting opinion could still quash the movement.
That being said, let’s enjoy the moment at least. As an aside, while it’s unscientific at best, a poll on the Adelaide Now website asks if readers were happy about Atkinson stepping down. “Yes” was the overwhelming answer, with 96.43 percent of the vote.
Thanks to everyone who sent in links (and accompanying smiley faces)!