Monday, 9 November 2020
Broadcasting Services Amendment (Regional Commercial Radio and Other Measures) Bill 2020; Second Reading
I rise to speak on this legislation, the Broadcasting Services Amendment (Regional Commercial Radio and Other Measures) Bill 2020, because media and a strong independent media have always been important, but, as we have seen, in 2020 they are more important than ever. One only has to look at what has happened in the US with the presidential election to understand why it's important to have news services around the world, but particularly in this country, that are based on those tried and true principles of journalism: of independence, of reporting facts, of having fact checks, of investigative journalism and of quality. Now more than ever that's what we need in this country.
Sadly, in the media landscape across Australia now, more than ever, those principles are in jeopardy. Not because of the amazing people that work in the traditional forms of journalism and who are committed to all of those important principles of journalism; and not because of the entrepreneurial, innovative and amazing people who work in the new forms of media, which I'll turn to in a moment, because most of them, and certainly all of those I've met in my community, are committed to those traditional important principles of media; but because of all the external threats that are placed upon them. The role of government is to regulate the media, to protect strong, independent media. Now more than ever our national broadcaster, the ABC, needs to be funded properly and protected. We need an independent national broadcaster which is not scared to do the investigative journalism and hold power to account. We need an independent national broadcaster which is dedicated to Australian faces, Australian voices and Australian stories—be they documentaries, drama or music. The ABC is one of our most trusted institutions, and for good reason. Every opportunity I get, I lend my voice to saying this is an institution that we must treasure and we must protect.
This legislation talks about regional commercial radio in particular. Obviously I don't represent a regional seat, but it's really important that we remember the situation of areas like mine, which is an outer suburban area, when it comes to local media. We rely really heavily on local media for our local stories in the same way that regional areas do, because the state media and what happens in the CBD of Melbourne is not always what is happening in Frankston and Carrum Downs and Mount Eliza and Langwarrin. We have our own stories and our own interests, and we need those to be able to be reported. We had the Frankston Standard Leader, which was a hard copy paper which was dedicated to our area. Yes, it was News Limited and behind a paywall online, but it existed; it is now really a couple of stories a week. We have the Mornington Peninsula News Group, which is one publication a week.
We have, though, amazing local media. RPP FM is our community radio station, which broadcasts down the Mornington Peninsula and up to Frankston, dedicated to local stories, local people and local news. During COVID, LOCKDOWN Radio with Brendon and Shivani has been a source of comfort, support and information for people right across my electorate and down into the Mornington Peninsula and the electorate of Flinders. Community radio is where you find professionals who are giving their time and their skills to make sure that we get to hear the stories that matter to us. You find volunteers who are learning their craft or who are dedicated to making sure that we get to hear jazz music from 1920—because people in my community love it—and the most modern music from 2020, as well as local football, netball, soccer, arts and craft stories. I was really proud to join with the state member for Frankston to support RPP FM to get a multicultural radio grant. They're going to be broadcasting issues that matter to people in languages such as Italian, Lebanese, Spanish, Chinese; and we have a number of people in our electorate from Zimbabwe. It's that building of community and spirit that has to be fostered and supported.
As I mentioned, we also have really great, innovative people in the electorate of Dunkley who are using social media to fill that gap and feed that need for local stories. GameFace started broadcasting local footy and is now aiming to broadcast netball. They're also branching out into stories about our community on their Facebook page as a local TV service. We have Facebook pages like elsewhere around the country, but they are devoted not just to talking about what is happening at the corner store and whether people are parked across the lines in local parking spaces but to delivering the news of the local community. Like Frankston Community Noticeboard, where a lot of people in our electorate turn on Facebook in order to get the local news.
These sources and the people that run them are really important, and we are grateful for them every day, but they don't replace a robust, mainstream, independent media that reports on the facts, that reports on what is happening in a way people can trust. That has to be treasured and protected in Australia; we've seen the consequences in America of what happens when it's not, and that's a path that none of us in Australia is willing to go down. It's incumbent on all of us in this place to support our local community radio, our local newspapers and our local Facebook media groups, and to make sure that our Australian national broadcaster continues to be properly funded and properly supported to be that fierce, independent broadcaster that we all respect so much.