It looks like Australia will finally be able to sell games that aren't quite tame enough to fall within the purview of its 15+ age rating. Last month, the representatives from eight of Australia's nine territories, comprising the country's Standing Committee of Attorneys-General, voted to approve an R18+ rating. The one hold-out, New South Wales Attorney-General Greg Smith, abstained from the vote, thus preventing the measure from passing. Such measures require unanimous consent.
Australian Minister for Justice Brendan O'Connor announced today that the New South Wales Attorney-General has since given "in-principle support" for the new rating, allowing the process to move forward.
The new Australian R18+ rating will be the equivalent of the ESRB's "M" rating in the United States, or "PEGI 18" in Europe.
"I am delighted that NSW has decided to support what is not just a practical public policy, but a very popular policy," O'Connor said. "Once introduced, the new classification will also afford adults the opportunity to view material designed for adults."
According to Joystiq, "draft guidelines presented at the prior meeting have since been amended, requiring approvals from some jurisdiction's cabinets," and the Australian government is moving forward to implement the new rating.
Sounds like it won't be long before gamers from the land down-under can start enjoying games like Left 4 Dead 2 and Mortal Kombat, two titles that were effectively banned in Australia because they were denied classification under the previous rating limitations. Australia later received an officially censored version of Left 4 Dead 2 that complied with the 15+ rating, but it's nice to know that future titles likely won't have to make such concessions.
[Editor's Note: This post has been edited to reflect the fact that an edited version of Left 4 Dead 2 was eventually released in Australia.]