The Classification Board is the body responsible for rating video games (and other stuff!) in Australia, and as such, is often blamed for the mess our system currently finds itself in. Thing is, it's not their fault.
The Board's job is to look at a game, assess its content, then award it a rating. That's it. The decision to add an adults-only rating for the country's games rests with politicians, not this apolitical body, something a representative from the group is able to explain in great detail as part of this interview with AustralianGamer.
The unnamed rep, revealing the Board's methodology under condition of anonymity, goes into great detail about how a game is rated in the land without an adults-only classification, saying most games are played to completion by staffers, and those that aren't are classified on the basis of video footage and a description provided by the publisher.
Of particular interest is the Board's guidelines on what constitutes excessive violence, which was the reason given for Aliens vs Predator's initial ban:
Overall in terms of the guidelines violence that exceeds a "Strong" rating is a scene that contains the use of greater detail that can include slow motion, close-ups, extenuation techniques (such as lighting, perspective and resolution), uses special effects in colour, tone, images and sound. A key factor in some of the controversial decisions you see is the use of prolonged violence.
Also provided is what the Board looks for when examining sex and drugs in a game, which has been an issue for titles like Fallout 3:
Two of the key things are, as a general rule, accepting material that is restricted to adults, nudity and sexual activity which must not be related to incentives and rewards. What this means is if a game contains nudity or sexual activity, that is connected with incentives or rewards, that game falls out of the MA15+ category. Also material that contains drug use and sexual violence that is connected to incentives or rewards falls out of the MA15+ classification.
It's interesting stuff. The excerpts above are just a taste; the full interview can be found below.
Classification Board of Australia Part 1 [AustralianGamer]