TRANSCRIPT - Sky News
Latest with Laura Jayes
2 March 2016
E & OE
National security, media reform, nbn
Joining me now is Communications Minister Mitch Fifield, also Cabinet
Minister. Mitch Fifield, how serious is this leak in your eyes?
The leaking of any classified material is always serious. It’s important
that governments, regardless of persuasion, can have confidential
deliberations, particularly on issues of defence and national security. And
it’s entirely appropriate that the Secretary of the Department of Defence has
initiated an inquiry.
This leak has obviously done some damage to Malcolm Turnbull and his
position, at least perhaps have the aim of doing that. What do we take from
this? What is the public take from this leak? Is it all happy families inside
the Coalition at the moment? Or is it still a problem with a leader and a former
Obviously anyone who releases classified information isn’t trying to be
helpful. And I think the Defence Minister made it very clear today that it has
been the advice of the Chief of the Defence Force, of the Secretary of Defence
that has been accepted in relation to the submarines in the white paper. We are
a good and a cohesive team. We don’t know where this particular leak came from.
That’s why it’s important to have an inquiry.
Is it sustainable –
and this will be my last question Minister, because I did get you on to talk
about media reforms – is it sustainable that you do have former Prime Minister
in Tony Abbott really running his conservative agenda on different issues? He’s
rightly doing it inside the Party Room at times but also there is comments in
I think former leaders of the Party and former Prime Ministers have a right to
make comment. I think John Howard is the model for former Prime Ministers and
former leaders as to the manner in which they should engage in debate.
But he bowed out of politics, Tony Abbott’s still on the backbench.
I still think that there are particular rights which former leaders and Prime
Ministers have, but also particular responsibilities.
Okay, media reform Mitch Fifield. This is a package that I think has been a
long time coming. You’d agree with that, even Labor agrees with that. What is
the process going forward here? How does the inquiry? Or how will the inquiry
be conducted? How long is it likely to take?
Legislation has been introduced into the House of Representatives. What’s known
as the Senate Selection of Bills Committee has met and that will be referring
the legislation to the Senate Communications and Environment Committee for
inquiry. It will be an inquiry that will go for probably six weeks or there
abouts. So that’s important. When you have legislation of this nature it’s
appropriate that the various interested parties have the opportunity to comment
on the legislation. And it’ll be a good process.
So there will be public submissions as well I imagine? There seems to be on the
fringes some concerns about mergers that might be in the works. News Corp and
the Murdoch empires control over media is often cited. But this could have a
beneficial impact, couldn’t it? To the likes of Fairfax for example?
whole objective in the getting rid of the 75% audience reach rule and the 2 out
of 3 rule is to make sure that our media laws reflect the world we live in. Now
these rules were basically created in an analogue era, where the options really
were print, radio or TV. We have an incredible array of new sources that are
now available online. I know that there are some people who are expressing concern
about possible loss of diversity, but I think we’ve never had a wider range of
sources for news. Also, we’ve kept in place what is known as the ‘5/4’ rule,
which ensures five media voices in metropolitan areas and four media voices in
regional areas. We’ve kept the one in a market rule in relation to TV markets.
And we’ve kept the ‘2 in-a-market’ rule in relation to the radio markets. But
the greatest thing that will support diversity is making sure we have good and
strong and viable media organisations in Australia. And that’s what removing
these laws is designed to do.
So if this
legislation passes, there are still provisions in there to retain diversity,
but is it largely going to be left up to market forces to ensuring that
Well it will
be up to consumers and technology. Consumers have never had more options.
Technology is making more options available to them. So it’s going to consumer
choice that will drive diversity. And look, we should let media organisations
configure themselves in the way that best suits their business model and let
that puts them in a position to be strong and viable.
anti-siphoning, you say that this list is evolving. Things are always coming
on, coming off it. Is this really a missed opportunity, isn’t it? Because there
are some things on that list, and are we in a situation where free to air
networks get the first bite at the cherry but a lot of these football and
cricket games end up on pay TV anyway because they’re on-sold or on divvied out.
Why don’t you just cut out the middle man in some of these cases?
right. There are many events that are on the list that end up with subscription
TV. There is nothing to compel free to air networks from purchasing these
events and there is nothing to stop them from on-selling these events to pay
TV. So you are right about that. There are events that have come on to the list
over time and events that have come off the list over time. But I think, if
there is to be change in the future to the anti-siphoning list in a substantial
way then I think there’d need to be a good community understanding of what the
anti-siphoning list does and doesn’t do and there would also need to be broad
parliamentary support. Those circumstances aren’t there at the moment and it’s
not part of our package.
So you’re not
ruling it out, but you’re saying you might revisit it down the track?
Well, look I
think the circumstances that would need to be there are broad parliamentary
support, and good community understanding as to how the anti-siphoning list
works. And those circumstances aren’t there.
on the nbn as well. We saw that leak to that report. There has been lots of
commentary around this. When it comes down to it Mitch Fifield, looking at the
figures that were put forward at the 2013 election, the government hasn’t kept
any of those.
Well we did
have in 2013 before the election some targets, based on what was available to
us as an opposition. When we came into the office, we realised that the
situation with the nbn was even worse than we had suspected.
constantly moving the targets. You’re moving them on a yearly basis to suit
your political agenda.
The good news is for the last six quarters the nbn has hit every significant
milestone. We now have 1.8 million premises who can access the nbn. We have
about 820,000 premises who’ve taken up the opportunity to do that. The nbn is
on track this year to have 2.6 million premises available to access the nbn.
And they’re on track to have around one million subscribers this year. So, nbn
is meeting its targets. Our predecessors, they only hit 15% of their rollout
targets. So, the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. And
we’ve hit our marks and our predecessors didn’t.
you almost $60 billion though. Is there are a part of you that perhaps thinks that
the Coalition should’ve just rolled out fibre to the home rather than fibre to
billion is the prediction for peak funding.
billion less than Labor’s plan.
commonwealth equity is capped under us at $29.5 billion. But if we had embarked
upon a full fibre option then the nbn would be taking six to eight years extra
to rollout and it would cost about $30 billion more. Unlike Stephen Conroy,
we’re not taking the theological approach to the nbn. We’re taking a
technological approach. We’re not wedded to a particular solution. We’ve got
what’s called the multi-technology mix, which means that whatever is the
technology that will see the nbn rolled out fastest and at lowest cost that’s
what will be pursued in a particular area.
Minister Mitch Fifield, thanks so much for your time.