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Thursday, 10 May 2018
Page: 2831

Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaMinister for Communications, Minister for the Arts and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (10:09): I'll just make the observation that the program that this bill will enable is modest, time limited and targeted. I think it will make a positive contribution. There are media organisations in the regions that do welcome what we would like to put in place, but I also acknowledge that this is a product of the discussions which occurred through media reform and we have always been upfront about that.

Just touching on the earlier part of your contribution, Senator Bernardi, for the sake of completeness, because I haven't mentioned it in my responses to Senator O'Neill, the government has initiated a competitive neutrality review into the public broadcasters to look at the questions that are raised about whether those organisations in any way use their status as government organisations to compete unfairly with commercial broadcasters. The commercial broadcasters have their view and public broadcasters have their view, and what a competitive neutrality review will do is flush out those issues so that they can be canvassed in an open way. The people we have doing that work are: Robert Kerr, the former head of office of the Productivity Commission, who is chairing that review; Sandra Levy, the former head of ABC TV; and Julie Flynn, the former head of Free TV Australia.