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Thursday, 7 December 2017
Page: 10094


Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaManager of Government Business in the Senate, Minister for Communications, Minister for the Arts and Acting Minister for Regional Communications) (15:38): I move the following amendment:

At the end of the motion, add 'and, in respect of:

(a) the Communications Legislation Amendment (Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund) Bill 2017, the Environment and Communications Legislation Committee report on 12 February 2018; and

(b) the Communications Legislation Amendment (Online Content Services and Other Measures) Bill 2017, the Environment and Communications Legislation Committee report on 12 February 2018.'

That amendment has been circulated in the chamber, I understand. I thank the opposition for their constructive engagement with the government this morning in relation to item (b), the Communications Legislation Amendment (Online Content Services and Other Measures) Bill 2017. The government had incorrect advice last night for the Selection of Bills Committee about the critical passage date for the bill. I put on the record the appreciation of the government to Ms Rowland and Senator Urquhart for, what I understand will be, the support of the opposition to have an early reporting date of 12 February 2018.

I also speak briefly to the date which the government is seeking to add to the Selection of Bills Committee report, in relation to the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund. That reporting date for the committee would enable the Australian Communications and Media Authority to administer the $50 million Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund. As colleagues would know, the purpose of the fund is to assist small publishers, particularly those in regional areas, with grants to help them transform their businesses in a challenging media market. The government wants the architecture for the fund in place to allow for the first round of grants to be awarded in June 2018, with funds to flow from July 2018. I should, for the benefit of colleagues, indicate that, if the proposed reporting date doesn't find favour with colleagues, it would be unlikely that ACMA would be in a position to award grants by 1 June 2018, as is intended.