One Nation support for media reform package
Government welcomes the support of Pauline Hanson's One Nation for the media
reform package currently before the Senate.
One Nation will
support the package in return for the Government implementing and introducing
legislation, where necessary, to give effect to:
* a public
register of foreign-owned media assets;
* the proposals
of Senator Bridget McKenzie to enhance the ABC's focus on rural and regional
* a range of
enhanced transparency measures for the public broadcasters, and;
* a community
The Government’s comprehensive and holistic package of
reforms seeks to give Australian media organisations a fighting chance by
freeing them from outdated laws and regulations.
The reforms will give media organisations more options as to how to
configure themselves to better support their viability.
The reforms have the unanimous support of the industry including WIN,
Prime, Southern Cross Austereo, Nine, Seven, Ten, Fairfax, News Corp, Foxtel,
Free TV, ASTRA and Commercial Radio Australia.
colleagues, apart from Labor, have been involved in active discussions with the
Government on media reform.
As has been the
case for the life of this Senate, it is independent and minor party colleagues
who are prepared to constructively engage.
Given Labor is
more interested in playing politics while risking jobs and livelihoods, the Government
will continue to negotiate with minor party and independent Senate colleagues
to secure the passage of this important legislation.
The elements of
the agreement with One Nation are attached.
Register of foreign ownership interests in regulated
To increase transparency of
foreign ownership of media assets, the Government will introduce legislation
before the end of 2017 to establish a public register of foreign ownership
interests in regulated Australian media assets. Under this proposal, foreign
persons – as defined in the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975
(FATA) – would be required to disclose holdings of 2.5 per cent or higher of
these regulated media assets.
The Senator Bridget McKenzie proposals to enhance the
ABC’s provision of services to rural and regional Australia
The Government will introduce
the McKenzie proposals as Government legislation by the end of 2017. These
changes would ensure that the needs of rural and regional communities would
receive appropriate focus by the ABC. Specifically these proposals would be to:
words into the ABC Charter to explicitly require a focus on regional Australia;
the ABC Board to establish a Regional Advisory Council;
the ABC Board to consult with the Regional Advisory Council on service changes
which will have a significant impact on regional audiences in particular;
the ABC Board to have at least two non-executive directors who have a
substantial connection to, or experience in, a rural or regional community
through business, industry or community involvement. When appointing
non-executive directors to these positions, the Minister must table a statement
in Parliament detailing how the appointees satisfy this criterion; and
the ABC to include certain particulars in its Annual Report, such as a
breakdown of rural and regional versus metro employees, ratios of journalists
to support staff and hours of local rural and regional news broadcasts
aggregated by broadcast area.
National broadcasters – competitive neutrality inquiry
The Government will initiate
an inquiry into whether or not the practices of the national broadcasters are
breaching the general principle of competitive neutrality and that they are
operating on a level playing field with their commercial counterparts. The
Government’s inquiry process will examine these issues and make
National broadcasters – transparency in the
remuneration of senior staff and on-air talent
To increase transparency of
the salaries provided to senior staff and on-air talent for our national
broadcasters, the Government will write to the boards of the ABC and SBS
stating that it is Government policy that they undertake regular and ongoing disclosure
of individual salaries and allowances of staff and on-air talent where their
total salary and allowances are in excess of $200,000 per annum. This
would follow the recent example of the BBC.
In the event either
broadcaster does not agree to implement this policy, the Government will
introduce legislation before the end of 2017 to amend the Australian
Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983 and the Special Broadcasting Services
Act 1991 to give effect to this policy.
A legislative requirement for ABC news and information
to be ‘fair’ and ‘balanced’
Government will introduce
legislation before the end of 2017 to insert the words ‘fair’ and ‘balanced’
into the existing section 8(1)(c) of the ABC Act. This amendment would mean the
relevant subsection would state that it is a duty of the Board:
(c) to ensure that the
gathering and presentation by the Corporation of news and information is fair,
balanced, accurate and impartial according to the recognized standards of
Additional measures to support community radio
The Government will implement
the following additional measures to support community radio:
To support community digital
radio rollout, the Government will provide further funding to the CBP for an
additional two years of $2.0 million in 2019-20 and $2.0 million in 2020-21.
To assist community
broadcasters to maintain or enhance their provision of news content, the
Government will provide additional funding towards the expansion of the
National Radio News (NRN) service. The Government will provide additional
funding of $0.8 million per annum over four years to the Community Broadcasting
Program (CBP) to implement this measure.
To bolster the amount of
local programming and content provided on community radio, the Government will
introduce legislation before the end of 2017 to amend the criteria against
which applications for community radio licences and renewals are assessed to
specify a role in informing local communities.
To support the
community radio sector’s further development and enhancement of their online
presence, the Government will provide additional new funding towards the
industry’s existing CBOnline Project with a focus on supporting the development
of a centralised portal and app. The Government will provide additional funding
of $0.6 million per annum over four years to the CBP to implement this measure.
To support the capacity,
skills and competencies of the community radio sector’s workforce and volunteer
base, the Government will provide additional new funding towards the industry’s
existing National Training Program with a focus on enhancing the management and
small-business skills of the sector. The Government will provide additional
funding of $0.6 million per annum over four years to the CBP to implement this
As well as including
significant regulatory reforms, the above measures represent a package of
additional funding for community radio of $12 million over four years.