‘Stuck in the Fifield Triangle’: Greens and Labor hit back over government media fund claims

Opposition parties have reacted strongly to the Federal government’s suggestion that they are holding up passage of the Regional and Small Publishers’ Innovation Fund.

Yesterday Mumbrella revealed the fund is likely to miss its July 1 launch as the necessary legislation hasn’t been passed in the house, leaving a key part of last year’s media reform deals undone.

“Stuck in the Fifield Triangle:” Labor comms spokesperson Michelle Rowland

Labor’s communications spokesperson, Michelle Rowland, was scathing about the delay, telling Mumbrella: “This bill isn’t stuck anywhere but in the Fifield triangle. The Turnbull Government controls the Senate program so if they want to get the fund up and running, they should hurry up and bring the bill on for debate.

“Even Nick Xenophon admitted that the criteria for the fund was ideologically-motivated, and it is proper that Parliament scrutinise that aspect of the bill, particularly given the significant sum of taxpayer money involved and the need for bipartisan support for public interest journalism.”

Mumbrella understands press gallery journalists were told the ALP will be supporting the bill at a post-caucus media briefing earlier this year.

Greens media spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young was equally scathing about the delays and the criticism of her party’s attempts to allow foreign owned publishers access to the program: “The purpose of this fund is to support Australian journalism. We want to support Australian journalism too. So if the government wants to bring the bill on, then it should go for it.

“We’re simply saying that if we’re going to support journalism with Australia’s tax dollars, let’s support Australian journalists writing about Australian stories for Australian audiences. Only in the hard-right of Malcolm Turnbull’s coalition party room could that be a controversial position.

“By holding up this legislation, Mitch Fifield is saying he’d rather have no money go to any news outlet than have a single dollar go to the Guardian.

“Our amendment strips out the government’s ideology test on who can and can’t get access to the funding model. This is the public’s money – not the government’s. It’s a blatant misuse of public money and an abuse of public trust for Malcolm Turnbull and Mitch Fifield to decide which journalists they support, based on which journalists support them.

“The Greens want to support Australian journalism and journalist jobs. At a time when trust in politics is so low, public interest journalism is more important than ever – and the public funding to support public interest journalism must be available to all players, not just those in the right-wing media and friends of the government.”


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