GOVERNMENT’S HEART NOT IN DIGITAL REFORM

MICHELLE ROWLAND MP.
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2 months ago
GOVERNMENT’S HEART NOT IN DIGITAL REFORM
MICHELLE ROWLAND MP
The Morrison Government’s response to the ACCC Digital Platforms Inquiry is an admission the Liberals have spent six years delaying long-overdue reforms and wasting time and resources on Groundhog Day processes that have gone nowhere.
 
Much of the work the Government says they’re going to do now could and should have been done years ago and Australia faces 2020 with a backlog of policy work that has piled up under the Liberals and Nationals.
 
This Government’s heart was never in the reform agenda or the Digital Platforms Inquiry.
 
The Government rejected Labor’s calls for an Inquiry of this nature back in 2016, and then only commissioned it in 2017 as part of a desperate crossbench deal to abolish a public interest safeguard against media concentration.

Now they support only six of the ACCC’s 23 recommendations, support 10 in-principle, note five and do not support two.

It is deeply concerning that the Morrison Government still doesn’t get it when it comes to public interest journalism, particularly in regional areas, which was the core impetus of this Inquiry in the first place.

This Government says they ‘support’ the ACCC’s recommendation that the ABC have stable and adequate funding, even as Morrison’s latest cut of $83.7 million over three years forces the ABC to axe a further 200 jobs.

Labor supports the establishment of a Digital Platforms Branch in the ACCC to safeguard competition and consumers in the digital economy.

Labor welcomes the Government finally committing to a staged process to reform media regulation towards a platform-neutral regulatory framework covering both online and offline delivery of content.

Today’s announcement comes eight years after the ACMA first released its Broken Concepts paper detailing the parlous state of the regulatory framework, seven years after the Labor-commissioned Convergence Review recommended staged implementation of holistic media reform, seven years after the ALRC Review of the National Classification Scheme was tabled and over three years after the Government began work on a communications policy roadmap.

Labor is pleased the Government has adopted Labor’s policy of consulting on options to inform the policy and regulatory framework for Australian and Children’s Screen Content.
 
Labor notes this is an admission of the inadequacy of the Review process that commenced in 2017 and is concerned the Liberals have fallen short of committing to regulate subscription video-on-demand services, such as Netflix.
 
As with the recommendations of the Banking Royal Commission, the ACCC Digital Platforms Inquiry has forced this Government to finally do something.
 
While the pace of digital change in our economy gathers speed, this Government has a track record of going slow and industry, consumers and citizens can hardly be filled with confidence that the regulatory asymmetry, uncertainty and delay will end any time soon.
 
Communications and the Arts