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Thursday, 10 May 2018
Page: 2833

Senator HANSON-YOUNG (South Australia) (10:17): Thank you. I'd just like to draw the committee's attention to the fact that I have circulated a new amendment on sheet 8432. This is a tweaked version of the amendments that were previously circulated on sheet 8373. The amendment goes to the fact that we are extremely concerned that the government has just made a blind and ideological attack on news agencies that don't fit their political agenda. We know that this government, particular members of its frontbench and particular members of its backbench don't like media organisations like The Guardian, BuzzFeed or, let's face it, all the ABC or SBS. This government has a problem within its ranks—thinking that just because it's in government it should be able to pick and choose which journalists and which media outlets it supports, based on whether these agencies give it a good run or not, based on whether they ask tough questions or not and based on whether they're just prepared to swallow the government spin day in, day out.

I concur with many of the things raised by Senator O'Neill in relation to how this bill was constructed and put together as part of a pretty shabby deal with former Senator Nick Xenophon and the Centre Alliance team. It's the whole reason we're even discussing this piece of legislation. The legislation itself is just one of these ridiculous, slap-it-together, 'She'll be right, mate' kinds of legislation that's come out of a deal negotiated by former Senator Nick Xenophon. Despite all of the hoo-ha, he's never been a really good negotiator, has he?

He spends a lot of time putting himself in the kingmaker position. But, when it comes to the crunch, what does he actually ever get? It ends up being pieces of legislation, or amendments, with unintended consequences or, indeed, not much more than a handshake and a promised word. At the end of the day, that is a bit disappointing when he is not even here now to have responsibility for it and be accountable.

The whole point of this package was to support small and regional publishers and help them to continue to have a role and to do a good job in underpinning public interest journalism in Australia. We have one of the most highly concentrated media markets in the world. Here we have a bill that is meant to do something to help support those smaller players, but it is just so ideologically bound and blinded by this government. The amendments on sheet 8432 that I have had circulated—

The TEMPORARY CHAIR ( Senator O'Sullivan ): Senator Hanson-Young, I'm loath to interrupt you, but I would like to seek clarification. There has been another set of amendments circulated on sheet 8434.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Yes, that's an additional amendment. Perhaps I should clarify it from the beginning. I shall withdraw the set of amendments on sheet 8373 revised. There are two other amendments that have been circulated and there'll be a third one coming. The first one that I'm talking to is on sheet 8432. Then there is a second amendment, on sheet 8434, which is the one you have just referred to, Temporary Chair. And at some stage I imagine—

The TEMPORARY CHAIR: We don't need to deal with the withdrawal as you had never moved those amendments. So we will set them aside. So the clarification is that 8432 will be the subject, I understand, of a motion from the senator but there are additional amendments on sheet 8434.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Yes.

Senator Fifield: Temporary Chair, I seek clarification as to whether 8432 won't be proceeded with and 8434 is replacing it. It looks as though there are common elements to 8434 and 8432.

The TEMPORARY CHAIR: Minister, 8432 replaces a set of amendments that were never moved, which were described on sheet 8373. So, to assist the chamber, we ought to ignore 8373. Senator Hanson-Young has just mentioned amendments which I assume are described on sheet 8432. So that's the contemporary set before us. The senator has circulated in the chamber amendments that are described on sheet 8434, which it is her intention to move, and she has foreshadowed that there will be a further set of amendments circulated. So we'll be dealing with three sets. If we can just treat them in order—

Senator Fifield: On my quick examining of the two, 8432 looks to be a subset of 8434. So 8434 has some amendments which are the same as 8432, but 8343 has what 8432 has plus further amendments. So is 8434 ultimately going to replace 8432?

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: This is the way the Clerk's office has decided to circulate them. I'm happy to take some advice as to why they have done it in this particular way.

The TEMPORARY CHAIR: Before I give you the call, Senator Bernardi: Senator Hanson-Young, they are your amendments; so, while Senator Bernardi makes a contribution, you might be encouraged to do a comparative on those two sheets and then guide us as to what you'd like to happen. Senator Bernardi.