At Senate Estimates today, the Minister for Communications and the Arts continued to delay the release of the report of the Australian and Children’s Screen Content Review.
Minister Mitch Fifield has been sitting on the report since December last year, and the delay is causing uncertainty and frustration across the screen sector.
Yet another victim of the Fifield Triangle, the Content Review was first announced in May 2017 as a joint review by the Department of Communications and the Arts, the ACMA and Screen Australia. Following a public consultation process undertaken over a year ago, in September 2017, the report was dutifully delivered to the Minister.
Today Labor Senator Anne Urquhart formally requested the Minister table the report, however the Minister elected to take the request on notice.
Senator Urquhart then asked the Minister how he would respond to an Order for the Production of Documents in the next sitting period, but the Minister elected to hold that did not want to give anything away, noting that Senators are always at liberty to put such motions before the Senate.
Not satisfied with this response, Senator Urquhart then moved that the Committee formally request that the Minister immediately table the report of the Australian and Children’s Screen Content Review.
The Committee suspended briefly for a private meeting to consider the motion, however the Government used its casting vote to the defeat the motion and block the release of the report.
Australian stories need to be told and heard by Australians and across the world, and we need to ensure we have the right measures in place in the contemporary environment.
The Minister should immediately release the report so that stakeholders across the sector have a shared evidence-base upon which to craft a way forward.