HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 9 NOVEMBER 2020
I table Petition EN1938 on a strong and diverse news media.
The principal petitioner is former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
It is also signed by former Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Begun just a month ago, this is the largest e-petition in our Parliament’s history, and I thank each of the 501,876 citizens who signed it. We in this parliament are the servants of the people, and a vital part of our job is to table the views of citizens.
Yesterday, Joe Biden called on his country to “marshal the forces of decency and the forces of fairness”. Essential to this is media accuracy and diversity.
Yet Biden has faced forces like Fox News, which downplayed coronavirus, perpetuated climate change denial and called refugees an ‘invasion’. There’s nothing ‘fair and balanced’ in the way they treat politics.
In Australia, the media is shrinking, and extremely concentrated.
From 2006 to 2016, the number of journalists fell by 9 percent. Health reporting is down 30 percent. Science reporting is down 42 percent.
Hundreds of local newspapers have closed, yet the Morrison Government is cutting the ABC.
There are now over 20 news “deserts” around Australia. This weakens community and raises the risk of corruption going unchecked.
Diverse sources of reliable, accurate and independent news isn’t a luxury – it’s fundamental to a healthy democracy.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.