Monday, 9 November 2020
Broadcasting Services Amendment (Regional Commercial Radio and Other Measures) Bill 2020; Second Reading
I'm very pleased to rise to speak on the Broadcasting Services Amendment (Regional Commercial Radio and Other Measures) Bill 2020. I know that this bill will not lower the amount of local content that is currently available to regional audiences on commercial radio, which is a great thing. I want to give a really huge shout out to all my local commercial radio stations on the New South Wales South Coast—2ST, Power FM, 2EC, Wave FM and i98 FM. My local TV stations, WIN Television and 9News Illawarra, are champions. They have their reporters out on the ground all the time.
But first of all I want to talk about commercial radio and the role of my local radio stations during the recent bushfires, just to show how crucial they are for our community. I grew up listening to my local 2ST radio station. Back in the days, Graham French was the news reader. He started working at 2ST in 1983, when I was 13 years old. Like many in my community, I listened over many years. There was news, there was three-way turf talk and lots of coverage of community events, and I was totally fascinated. In fact, it was Graham French and the 2ST news stories of the coverage of the Nowra pool campaign that eventually led me into this place. I could never forget the media stories about my beloved pool being described as an ugly duckling. Here I am, and I am pleased to say that that pool has been transformed into a very modern aquatic park.
But on his retirement in 2015, after more than three decades on the radio—it is important to mention this today—Graham said that, of the thousands of stories he covered over his years, the Shoalhaven bushfires in 2001 proved to be one of the most challenging. He said in those times, the radio was the immediate means of letting people know that their home may be in danger and they have to get out. It was horrendously long hours, he went on to say. That was some time ago.
Fast forward to the 2019-20 bushfires, and I'm pleased to say that 2ST and its journos were there every step of the way. They were tireless. I want to send a big shout out to Gavin and all the team at 2ST and Power FM for their excellent coverage. I spent a lot of time at fire control, the Shoalhaven emergency management centre, during the fire, and I saw the commercial broadcasters, all the broadcasters, and the fantastic role they played in ensuring that our community had the information they needed to remain safe. Apart from that, radio 2ST is there every step of the way. Every major public community event I go to, radio 2ST are there. They're sponsoring events. Whether it's the local show or a town hall meeting, they're there, and I really want to thank them.
Another commercial broadcaster in my electorate is the wonderful radio 2EC in the Eurobodalla. What a wonderful station and presenters we have there as well. Of course, we've got Tonya, the wonderful radio journalist who did an amazing job during the bushfires. I say 'job', but it went far beyond a job. It was 24/7 for weeks and weeks, and months and months, with little rest. It's important that that contribution is recognised in this parliament, because broadcasters and the staff there did the most amazing job. They helped their communities. What Tonya reported on not only helped save lives but helped people with vital information. It was someone to listen to in the most crazy and distressing of times. And our radio journos heard so much. They saw so much. They saw the anguish; they saw and heard the fear. And then, when the fires were over and a lot of the international media went away, it was our local journos, our local commercial radio broadcasters and our local ABC, that were there. That recovery is ongoing, and it's going to take years. But it's our broadcasters and our journos that are there every single day. I know that they are there; they're always asking the hard questions, but they're also sharing the many, many positive stories that have come out of this awful experience. Our community has rallied so much. There are great stories, and our commercial radio broadcasters are part of telling that story.
I just want to mention Wave FM and i98 a little bit further north but also covered by my electorate. And even though they are a little bit further north, they were still talking about the bushfires and ensuring that people in the northern parts of the electorate had that vital information. We also had so many donations and so many people wanting to help. Our journalists and our commercial radio broadcasters did a fantastic job at helping people there.
What an amazing job our local TV stations did during the bushfires and are always doing every single day. WIN TV and Nine News Illawarra are just amazing. They also worked tirelessly to cover the 2019-20 bushfires. I want to say thank you to each and every local TV journo, cameraperson and everyone working behind the scenes to get the stories out to our communities. Our local TV reporters on the ground are essential. During the bushfires, when your phones go down, when your NBN goes down and even your radio might go down, it's vital to have local reporters there to cover what's really going on on the ground. We need to support our local regional media. Local regional media covers the stories we need to hear and it means local jobs. We need to do absolutely everything to support our local media. We can't lose our local media. We need to stand up and fight for our local media, and that's what I will continue to do every single day.