Shadow media minister Michelle Rowland ‘unhinged’ and hysterical’ over reforms, claims Fifield

Labor’s media spokeswoman Michelle Rowland made “unhinged” and “hysterical” comments about the government’s plans for the ABC, communications minister Mitch Fifield has claimed.

The attack from Fifield came during a Q&A panel at the Radio Alive conference featuring both politicians along with ABC boss Michelle Guthrie.

In order to get Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party to help vote through his media reforms package, Fifield agreed an inquiry would be held into the ABC’s impartiality and salary details of its best paid staff would be publicly revealed.

Earlier this month Guthrie criticised the focus on the organisation in a speech to the ABC Friends conference dinner. Afterwards, Fifield has described opposition as ranging from “hysterical” to “slightly unhinged”

Asked about his comments at the radio conference, Fifield clarified that he had not been referring to Guthrie.


Fifield (third from left), said he was accusing Rowland (far right), not Guthrie (far left), of being hysterical

“I wasn’t referring to Michelle [Guthrie], I was referring to Michelle [Rowland] over the other side,” Fifield said.

Rowland jumped in: “So I’m unhinged?”

He responded: “Some of the comments from the opposition and from some sectors of the media I thought were a bit hysterical when it came to what we were proposing about the ABC and also what we put forward in our media reform package.”

The media reform package, which is to reappear in The House of Representatives this week includes a removal of broadcasting licence fees, restrictions on gambling advertising in live sporting events across all platforms, and the repeal of the two out of three and 75% audience reach media ownership rules.

Concessions include a $10m scheme for cadet journalists, a $50m media innovation fund and $12m to support community radio stations are the main ticket items agreed to by the government along with an ACCC inquiry into Facebook and Google’s powers and changes to the ABC’s charter.

Trioli asked for Guthrie’s view on the delicate situation, to which she responded: I said all that I had to say in my speech last Friday really around the importance of the independence of the ABC but also the trust and value that the Australian population really places in us.”



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