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Wednesday, 30 May 2018
Page: 4887


Mr KEENAN (StirlingMinister for Human Services and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Transformation) (10:32): I thank colleagues who have contributed to the debate on the Communications Legislation Amendment (Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund) Bill 2017. The bill will implement an important component of the government's media reform package. The government is committed to assisting small and regional publishers through a time when the media landscape is in a state of flux. Traditional revenue models have been fractured, and media organisations must adapt to move with their audiences. For smaller and regional publications, this is even more challenging. In this disrupted environment, access to locally relevant, factual journalism remains vital to develop and maintain strong communities. The government's Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund recognises this need. The $50 million will provide grants over three years to eligible media organisations for projects that enable new business models and practices. By doing so the government will assist these publishers to put themselves on a sustainable commercial footing.

I note that industry is supportive of this bill and that submissions received during the inquiry recognised the merit of developing measures to support Australian civic journalism as well as the particular need to support civic journalism in regional areas. The bill will establish the legislative framework to establish the operation of the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund. The government looks forward to proceeding with a call for applications so that ACMA can begin assessing applications and distributing these much-needed funds to regional and small publishers. I therefore commend the bill to the chamber.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.