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Monday, 26 March 2018
Page: 2188

Senator HANSON-YOUNG (South Australia) (21:30): Minister, you haven't addressed the core issue, and that is that the programs and events shown on Foxtel's various channels, including Fox Sports, are not accessible to the public. They are simply inaccessible. You've said there's an increase in hours of women's sport being broadcast on Foxtel. Well, good, except that most Australians can't view it. Most Australians don't have access to Foxtel. In fact, I must say that, with the growing living costs across the country, most Australians can't afford to pay upwards of $60, $70 or $80 a month subscription. You're willing to give $30 million to this company so that women's sport can be shown on Foxtel and hardly anybody can watch it. Your government sits here, day in and day out, trying to say that we need to have funding cuts to schools, funding cuts to the ABC and funding cuts to SBS—'We don't have enough money to fund this, that and the other'—but it's well and truly okay to hand over a cheque of $30 million to Foxtel for shows that people can't watch because most people can't afford it. That's how out of touch this government is.

If you really cared about women's sports, you'd make sure it was on free-to-air television, through the public broadcasters, and we know that SBS and the ABC do a fantastic job. It would be through the free-to-air commercial stations. Why on earth would you lock up these shows on a subscription television service that most Australians can't watch? You love women's sport, but you don't want anybody watching it, and you're more than happy to justify a $30 million cheque. It just beggars belief and it doesn't pass the sniff test.

Let's be absolutely honest with what's happened here, Minister. You needed some way of justifying some rule change to gambling advertising. Your mates at Foxtel weren't happy, so you handed them $30 million in the hope they'd go away and shut up. But, of course they didn't. They came crawling back only six months later and said, 'The $30 million isn't enough. We also need exemptions because not only do we charge people to watch our stations but not enough people are prepared to do that. It's too expensive.' Now they don't have to have the gambling restrictions on their stations, because not enough people watch the bloody shows in the first place. It is a rort—a $30 million rort paid for by the taxpayer and handed over by you to your mates at Foxtel at the expense of what could have been funded by our public broadcasters or, even beyond that, our free-to-air broadcasters. You're ripping off taxpayers, you're ripping off women's sport and you're just looking after your mates. I put it to you, Minister, that you have no idea how much this stinks.

Could the minister please explain: where did the $30 million figure come from? Was that something the government put on the table? Was it asked for by Foxtel? Why was $30 million the figure that was agreed to?