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Thursday, 21 March 2013
Page: 2959


Mr KATTER (Kennedy) (13:33): Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I claim to have been misrepresented.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. BC Scott ): No, there are forums in which—

Mr KATTER: But if I have the call, I will take advantage of it.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: No, you—

Mr KATTER: Do I have the call?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: You have the call to speak on the motion that has been moved by the Leader of the House. The Leader of the House?

Mr Albanese: I am just concluding the debate and then, if the member wants to make a personal explanation, he is certainly entitled to do so.

Mr Turnbull: He is entitled to speak on the motion if he wishes, Mr Deputy Speaker.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I hear what the Leader of the House said. The member for Kennedy: if you wish to speak on the motion, you have the call.

Mr KATTER: Thank you very much. The previous speaker made a number of allegations about me which were entirely incorrect. Not only were they incorrect but he knew they were incorrect. He is an intelligent person; no-one would ever deny that—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! You will be speaking to the motion before the House. If you want to make a personal explanation, that is a different matter.

Mr KATTER: No, it is not a personal explanation—I am speaking to the motion.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Kennedy has the call.

Mr KATTER: But, in speaking to the motion, my position—once I could understand what was taking place here—was taken behind closed doors. Our decision was made behind a locked door. It was not made in conjunction or negotiation with the Liberal Party or the Labor Party. I most certainly spoke to all of those people; it would have been improper if I had not spoken to them. I spoke to the honourable opposition spokesman. I spoke to the people on the other side as well. But my decision was taken behind a locked door—and that was not to accept the Liberal Party position, which was to continue with a corporate lapdog called the Press Council.

If the honourable spokesman comes into this place and wants to look after the interests of the corporates, from which he comes—his own group and his own background—then I applaud him for at least being honest. But don't come in here and try and portray me as going along with the ALP proposition. The whole of the Australian public saw the ALP proposition as the Thought Police—let's be honest. So this mob wants a corporate lapdog, and this mob want a government attack dog. It would be nice if someone in this place thought that the people of Australia might have a watchdog to protect their interests. At all times I moved my own piece of legislation saying that the watchdog would be set up by an entirely independent body—nothing to do with government—and that body would have some teeth to stop media concentration.

The honourable spokesman for the opposition, let's face it, would have been talking to these people. He would already know the media concentrations that they are moving towards. That may be in the interests of the corporate classes in Sydney; it is most certainly not in the interests of any single person in this country outside the corporate interests in Sydney, which the honourable member obviously represents.

We put forward a proposition—and how could anyone think this was unreasonable?—that a panel be appointed by the Australian Press Council. They are entitled to some representation. Most certainly and importantly, the Australian journalists association are entitled to some representation. Then, finally, six of those positions would be selected by the Australian people, not by politicians but by people at a great distance. Who can you pick out in Australia to do that job who are respected? I think the people that decide upon the decorations—the people who give out the OAMs and the AMs—have done a marvellous job over the years. They are very much at distance from government. They have absolutely nothing to do with government. They have an independent appointment.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Member for Kennedy, reluctant as I am to interrupt, I know you are talking about the bills, but we are now talking about the motion, which is to discharge orders of the day Nos 2 to 5. I bring you to the motion before the House. I have been very generous in giving you the call and allowing you to continue in the way you have. I ask the member to come to the motion before the chamber.

Mr KATTER: I am not against the withdrawal of the bills. They were contaminated by a position called PIMA. My legislation will go forward. If no-one in this place decides to support it, so be it. Let the people of Australia judge them. Perhaps they think we should continue with a corporate lap-dog and that there should be a free-fire zone where a concentration of media power can reach the same outcome that we have got with Woolworths and Coles, where farmers are paid nothing and our food prices are amongst some of the highest in the world. I use an example of concentration of market power. When you deregulated the dairy industry the price for farmers went down 30 per cent and within 18 months it went up 41c.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Member for Kennedy.

Mr KATTER: No, Mr Deputy Speaker, please, let me continue.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: You are a long way off the motion before the House—

Mr KATTER: No, I am not. Deputy Speaker, with due respect—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: No, the motion is to discharge orders of the day Nos 2 to 5 of government business, and that is the motion we are debating.

Mr KATTER: I know, Mr Deputy Speaker, but the essence—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Kennedy will resume his seat. The motion before the chamber is quite clear. It has been moved by the Leader of the House to discharge orders of the day Nos 2 to 5, government business. I know there are other issues to do with dairying and other things, but those things are not part of the motion that we are debating. You have to be relevant to the motion before the House. I call the member for Kennedy and ask him to confine his remarks to the motion before the House.

Mr KATTER: To complete my sentence, the issue of food is very important, Mr Deputy Speaker, and you would agree that it is very important. But just as important are the workings of democracy. The High Court has held again and again that there must be fairness. If you have a monopoly position in the media then you must act as if you do not have a monopoly position. I quote the Wire, BHP case, where the High Court held almost unanimously that you must act in a fair and responsible manner. But if you have a concentration of media power then, quite frankly, you can do what you like. You are answerable to nobody. I most certainly would not be game to take on the press barons, and I do not think anyone else here with a sense of personal survival would be game to do so.

If we put in place a watchdog, a protective mechanism, that would be a good outcome. I must be fair to the government and say that, whilst they contaminated beyond belief a good proposal that there be some restrictions upon the concentration of media power and whilst they contaminated it with the PIMA proposal, let us have a watchdog over the concentration of media power and let that watchdog be set up by people who are visibly at a distance, at arm's length, from the government, and I will be proceeding with that legislation. If people in this place are genuine then I think I will receive unanimous support. If they are playing party games then I think I won't.