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Content review stuck in the Fifield triangle



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MICHELLE ROWLAND MP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS

MEMBER FOR GREENWAY

CONTENT REVIEW STUCK IN THE FIFIELD TRIANGLE

Today the Minister for Communications and the Arts, Senator Mitch Fifield, refused

to comply with a Senate Order for Production of Documents to table the report of

the Australian and Children’s Screen Content Review.

This is despite the fact the report has now been stuck in the Fifield Triangle for

almost a year.

This obstinance comes on top of the Morrison Government’s denial of an FOI

request for the report and their avoidance of a formal request and attempt by Labor

to have the report released at Senate Estimates in October.

In a letter to the President of the Senate, the Minister claims public interest

immunity stating:

“The release of the document at this time would harm the public interest in that it

would interfere with the proper consideration by and deliberative processes of

Cabinet.”

The Minister is hiding the report from the public domain, despite his remarks at the

outset of the Content Review where he said:

“And what we want is your views. Dare I say it the answers seldom come from

government, or right answers seldom come from government when you are looking

at policy settings.”

Unfortunately this Government has failed to deliver answers in a range of key

areas in the Communications Portfolio, so you’d think they’d take all the help they

can get.

The Minister has continued to stall on the issue of Audio Description, despite the

Audio Description Working Group reporting almost a year ago, in December 2017.

The Minister has not delivered a communications policy roadmap centred on a

principles-based framework for communications policy, despite putting the

Department to work on it at least two years ago.

The Government has not delivered the spectrum reforms it promised, despite the

Spectrum Review reporting over three and a half years ago, in March 2015.

The Minister’s claim that release of the report of the Content Review would

interfere with proper consideration is farcical given his preference for back-door

dealmaking, which saw the grant of $30 million to Fox Sports, the use of the ABC

as a bargaining chip in a deal with One Nation, and his embarrassing inability to

explain the terms of his eleventh-hour deal with Nick Xenophon to repeal the two

out of three cross-media control rule.

It is unacceptable that Minister Fifield is subjecting the screen sector to his own

tardiness and ineptitude.

Minister Fifield prefers to hold back evidence, stymie open public debate on policy

options, and subject the sector to uncertainty as it can only guess what shady

backroom deal he’ll do next.

THURSDAY, 15 NOVEMBER 2018

MEDIA CONTACT: LUKE HEFFERNAN 0409 818 001

Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra.