Mitch Fifield named Communications Minister



Victorian Senator Mitch Fifield has been appointed as the new communications minister in today’s ministerial reshuffle by new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Fifield was previously Assistant Minister for Social Services and was a key supporter of Turnbull in his challenge for Liberal leadership.

The new communications minister will face ongoing industry pressure to push through media reform by the regional television networks Prime, WIN, Southern Cross Austereo and Imparja who have been actively lobbying Nationals MPs to get the government to remove rules limiting their population reach and the rules limiting media ownership to two out of three forms of media. 

Should the reach rule, which limits TV network to reaching only 75 per cent of the population, and two out of three rules be abolished there could be a round of media mergers between the regional TV networks and their metropolitan sister stations.

Other major issues on the communications agenda will include pressure for TV licence cuts, demands from News Corp for a review of the anti-siphoning rules which prevent Foxtel from locking up major sporting franchises and the current review of broadcast regulator the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

Fifield takes over from Turnbull as communications minister, after he resigned earlier in the week in order to mount his successful leadership challenge to Tony Abbott.

Communications will be one of a number of portfolios being given to Fifield who is taking on Minister for Arts, Minister assisting the Prime Minister for digital government and Manager of Government Business in the Senate.

He was first elected to the Senate in 2004 replacing former communications minister Richard Alston. Prior to that Fifield held a number of staff positions for NSW minister for transport and Sydney’s Olympic bid Bruce Baird before moving into federal politics where he worked for Nationals MP John Anderson, then as adviser to then Victorian minister for transport Alan Brown and finally as a senior political adviser to Federal Treasurer Peter Costello from 1996 to 2003.

Nic Christensen

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