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Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Page: 12565

Mr SLIPPER (FisherDeputy Speaker) (19:09): Tonight I wish to address two topics: the importance of the Parliamentary Day for Daniel tomorrow and the predatory pricing discounts being given by the Sunshine Coast Daily. I raise today the example of the majority foreign-owned multinational media company APN, which operates the Sunshine Coast Daily newspaper, engaging in what can only be described as predatory conduct to try to eliminate a local business within my area. I find this behaviour unconscionable.

APN owns the largest outdoor advertising business in Australia and New Zealand and has strong growing operations in Hong Kong and Indonesia. Across the Tasman it has numerous radio networks and here radio stations in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. APN publishes 22 daily and more than 100 non-daily newspapers across Australia and New Zealand.

I have been informed that the Sunshine Coast Daily, its management and employees are now proudly gloating within the business community of an intention to kill off a locally owned publication that stands up to it in the market with a sustained discount strategy that has reductions of up to 70 per cent. My Property Preview has saved the Sunshine Coast region more than $30 million in advertising costs over the past three years since its launch. This has permitted advertisers to meet other more important priorities, such as education, medical expenses and grocery bills.

Being independent is what Australia is all about. Everyone today should be extremely mindful that Australians have had a gutful of seeing multinational companies simply treat communities with contempt in the name of profits. My Property Preview is an independent business that effectively provides employment for up to 120 people. There is no doubt that APN would like to enjoy a monopoly, which would allow it to resume pre-2008 advertising rates and once again have locals paying exorbitant prices for trying to sell their homes.

I am advised that My Property Preview publishers have now met with the ACCC, which has commenced communication with APN. I call upon the ACCC to investigate this matter thoroughly to ensure Australian independent publishers are not forced out of the market by predatory pricing. It is common knowledge that the Sunshine Coast Daily newspaper is in serious decline and its thirst for profits from a declining readership has never been greater. In my opinion, this anticompetitive behaviour is not for the benefit of Sunshine Coast residents. The recent share price collapse suffered by APN could be the market reacting to what seems to be desperate and irrational conduct. I call on all shareholders and ethical investors in the company to question its management about what it is putting at risk.

I have met with the publishers of My Property Preview and understand they will fight to protect the Sunshine Coast from this desperate measure by a desperate company grasping at straws. I suggest that all honourable members engage with independent publishers across the country to make sure that what is happening on the coast is not happening elsewhere and to ascertain how widespread this unacceptable behaviour might be.

Tomorrow is the Parliamentary Day for Daniel, which gives all of us the opportunity to wear a red tie or a red item of clothing to stand up for the principle of child safety. Day for Daniel recognises the work of the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, led by Denise and Bruce Morcombe, which so actively promotes child safety matters.

The Morcombe family suffered a terrible tragedy. In 2003, 13-year-old Daniel set out on a shopping trip to buy Christmas presents for his family but he never made it to the shops and he never made it home. In August a 41-year-old man was arrested and charged in relation to Daniel's disappearance. The charges include murder, deprivation of liberty, child stealing, indecent treatment of a child under 16, and interfering with a corpse. The court process is ongoing.

The Day for Daniel was last Friday, 28 October. Included in the wide range of events was the major walk for Daniel. Bruce and Denise Morcombe are very supportive that I am encouraging all members to tomorrow wear a red tie, a red scarf, a black scarf or a red item of clothing to indicate our solidarity with the principle of child safety in this nation in 2011. Last year the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Manager of Opposition Business and many others participated in the Parliamentary Day for Daniel. I was enormously proud when I entered the chamber on last year's Parliamentary Day for Daniel and saw a sea of red. It is wonderful we have this issue that can join us together to help us support the work of the Daniel Morcombe Foundation.

The Morcombe family have put their own grief aside. They are determined to make sure that other children in Australia are safe and that child safety becomes a matter of the highest importance in a civilised society, and let us hope Australia is civilised. I encourage all of my colleagues to wear red tomorrow.