Thursday, 21 June 2012
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Conroy. I refer the minister to the recommendations of the Finkelstein review and the Convergence Review, which the minister indicated during question time yesterday that he was preparing to act on 'in the not too distant future'. I ask the minister if he is now prepared to rule out any of the recommendations from these reviews and, if so, which ones. In particular, will the minister rule out the Finkelstein recommendation to establish a new news media council?
Playing the traditional guessing game, Mr President, of 'please rule in one recommendation versus another recommendation' is a time-honoured practice exercised by those in opposition. The government is considering all of the recommendations. It is not giving any early indications of where it is going to land on the Finkelstein recommendations. I am sure that Senator Birmingham will wait with bated breath, but at this stage I am not going to be able to be too much more helpful until after the government has finished deliberating.
Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Noting that the minister will not deal with specific recommendations, in the light of the extensive job losses and restructuring occurring in the print media environment at present, as well as increasing pressure being felt in other areas of traditional commercial media, will the minister give an assurance that he will not seek to impose greater regulation on media content or any increased costs on these sectors of the media?
Yes, the carbon price is to blame again! The opposition's position on this is quite clearly split between Mr Turnbull and Mr Abbott. On the one hand, Mr Abbott says it is okay for Ms Rinehart to take over holus-bolus. On the other hand, Mr Turnbull put out a very thoughtful piece in the Age yesterday—Mr Turnbull and I were recently described as a unity ticket on this.
The question is: where do those opposite stand? The question is: when it comes to signing the charter of editorial independence, are you in the Turnbull camp or are you in the Abbott camp? Because they are in different camps. Let me be very clear: on the public record, in the last 48 hours, Mr Abbott and Mr Turnbull have expressed diametrically opposite positions. That is not a surprise, given— (Time expired)
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I draw the minister's attention to the fact that the first supplementary question was about media content, not media ownership. It was about greater regulation of media content and increased costs on the sector. My further question to the minister is—
He seems very touchy. I further ask the minister: given his apparent desire to impose increased media content regulation on both traditional and new media platforms, can he explain how this will help with the divergence of views and voices in the Australian media—rather than stifling speech, increasing costs and contributing to the decline in traditional media jobs?
Senator Cameron interjecting—
Yes, it is pretty clear which side he is on, is it not, Senator Cameron? The whole question is based on a false premise. If you go back to Hansard and have a look at that question, you will see it begins with an entirely false premise. He then builds up the usual rant, but clearly Senator Birmingham has been got to. Clearly—
Senator Brandis interjecting—
You could stand up and tell Mr Abbott to support the charter of independence. Why do you not stand up, Senator Brandis, and ask Mr Abbott to support Mr Turnbull on this one?
My apologies, Mr President. I was outrageously distracted—'provoked' would possibly be a better word. There is clearly a divide on the other side. Senator Birmingham's question demonstrates that he is just spending his time, once again, crawling to Mr Abbott—backing up Mr Abbott instead of getting behind the principled position of Mr Turnbull on this one. As Mr Turnbull has said, 'Sign the charter of editorial independence.' That is— (Time expired)