2016 has been a year of inaction for the missing Minister for Communications, Senator Mitch Fifield.
Recently the ABC’s Media Watch gave Communications Minister Mitch Fifield their ‘Non Event of the Year’ Award for his lacklustre attempt at ‘media reform’ this year.
The Minister was also described in The Australian as “the most ineffective politician in the land” because he had only just discovered the need for widespread reform of media regulation, and “cannot escape the charge of too little, too late”.
I have consistently called for a comprehensive and evidence-based approach to media reform. The Minister initially rubbished this approach, but according to recent reports he may be changing his tune.
Not only that, but just about every review the Minister has touched has failed to deliver on expectations:
- The Spectrum Review was kicked off in May 2014 and we still haven’t seen any reform package.
- The ACMA Review was announced in June 2015 and there’s still no final report.
- The implementation of the Vertigan Review, which the Government responded to in December 2014, is still doing the rounds.
- There has been no sign of a review of Australian and children’s television content, despite its inclusion in the Deregulation Roadmap in 2014.
What’s more, the Minister is still sitting on a number of key appointments:
- There has not been a permanent head of the ACMA for over nine months.
- The SBS Chairman position has been vacant since February.
- There have two positions vacant on the ABC board for 18 months.
What has the Minister been doing all this time?
Mitch Fifield has also failed to deliver on Malcolm Turnbull’s promise that every Australian household would have access to NBN by the end of 2016 — they’ll end up being around 7 million premises short.
Meanwhile, the media landscape continues to undergo dynamic change. We need a comprehensive vision and the execution of sound principles-based policy to ensure our media laws support a both a diverse, thriving democracy and a competitive media sector.
We have neither under this hapless Turnbull Government and lazy Minister.