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      3   INDEPENDENT NEWS MEDIA

The order of the day having been read for the resumption of the debate on the motion of Mr Gibbons—That this House:

(1)    acknowledges that a vibrant, independent news media is an essential component of a healthy democracy; and

(2)    considers that:

(a)    the democratically essential concept of an independent news media does not equate to the unrestricted right of specific media owners, or the industry in general, to manage their businesses without a social licence to operate;

(b)   recent developments in Australia, and in other democratic countries, including inappropriate relations between media owners and politicians, socially unacceptable methods of news gathering, socially unacceptable standards of factuality and veracity in news reporting, a failure to distinguish between factual news reporting and editorial opinion, falling circulations, declining sales revenues and failed business models, are all evidence, prima facie, of an industry that has lost its social licence to operate;

(c)    market competition can be a valuable mechanism for maintaining general, socially acceptable standards of journalism, but the concentration of news media ownership in the hands of a few represents, prima facie, a competitive market failure requiring compensatory regulation to ensure socially acceptable outcomes; and

(d)   as the only representative body democratically elected by all citizens of Australia, the Parliament of Australia is the appropriate body to determine what socially acceptable standards are expected from news media in this country and to legislate appropriately to ensure adherence to them; and such legislation should include:

(i)    the appointment of a politically-independent regulatory body to oversee adherence to statutorily-defined standards of news media behaviour;

(ii)   commercially significant sanctions for failures to comply with relevant statutory regulations; and

(iii)  adequate resourcing for such a regulatory body to enable it to enforce statutorily defined sanctions against financially and politically powerful news media owners ( see item No. 2, Votes and Proceedings )—

Debate resumed.

The time allotted for the debate having expired, the debate was interrupted, and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for the next meeting.