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Monday, 20 August 2018
Page: 7724


Ms SWANSON (Paterson) (13:26): I rise today to share my respect for the role the media plays in our democratic society, the importance of encouraging diversity of voices and my absolute passion for radio, particularly community radio. It was in the community radio area of the media that I worked immediately before being elected to this place by my community.

Today the House considers the Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Foreign Media Ownership and Community Radio) Bill 2017 motion for second reading. Much of this bill speaks to the points I've just mentioned, and much of the current sorry state of the Australian media landscape can be sheeted home to the Turnbull government.

In 2006, the Howard government abolished foreign ownership and control limits At the time it was hoped that this move would bring more owners and capital into the Australian media market. It was thought that this could even encourage new players in print. Overall, it was seen as a safeguard to media concentration. Fast forward 11 years to 2017: the Turnbull government has negotiated with One Nation to secure its support to repeal the important two-out-of-three, cross-media ownership control rule. We never thought we'd see the day, but here it is. This is, as I speak, leading to an even greater concentration of media voices. We need look no further than the proposed Nine Network takeover of Fairfax for evidence of this: a television company swallowing what was historically a print based company. Fairfax is not just any print company: it has long been hailed as one of the great bastions of respectable journalism in Australia.

I must say, I do agree with former Prime Minister Paul Keating who, in response to news of this merger, described it as 'an exceptionally bad development'. In his opinion piece, which was broadly published in the wake of the Nine/Fairfax announcement, Mr Keating said:

The absence of those legislative barriers, in the media free-for-all the Turnbull government is permitting, will, because of the broadly maintained power of those outlets, result in an effective and dramatic close down in diversity and, with it, opinion.

As the elected representatives of a democratic society, I believe we must rail against this. In other parts of society, we encourage diversity. We seek input from various stakeholders when we face a multifaceted problem.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Hogan ): The debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 43. The debate may be resumed at a later hour, when the member for Paterson will be able to seek continuation.