Today Australia’s laziest Communications Minister has disgraced himself by attempting to use Network Ten’s decision to enter voluntary administration for cheap political gain. 

Minister Fifield’s claim that Labor is delaying and frustrating the media package is utterly misleading:

  • Minister Fifield has not even released a Bill, despite having announced his second attempt at media reform with great fanfare over four weeks ago.
  • To date, Labor’s Shadow Communications Minister has not received a briefing on the substantive measures, because the detail simply isn’t available. The only information Labor has ascertained has been through the Senate Estimates process – and even then the Minister was incapable of answering several fundamental points.
  • Labor has made it clear that it supports the majority of the Government’s proposed measures in principle, primarily because Labor proposed them in the first place.
  • Minister Fifield arrogantly rejected Labor’s offer to support the repeal of the 75 per cent reach rule last year, and Labor shares industry’s frustration that this long-overdue reform is yet to be realised.

Labor’s position on the two out of three rule has been crystal clear since November 2016 and is evidence-based. There is no gamesmanship in Labor standing up for the public interest, and our democracy, by limiting the ability of dominant media voices to consolidate even further in Australia’s already heavily concentrated media market. Not once in over a year has Mitch Fifield consulted with Labor on concerns about repeal of the two out of three rule.

A complex series of factors are cited in the statement from Ten Network Holdings today, including licence fee relief. Labor has long-supported licence fee relief and has indicated its in principle support for their abolition.

It is notable that it was the Labor Government that commenced the rollback of broadcast licence fees, yet this Government has taken almost four years in office to even propose a new spectrum usage charge.

Unfortunately Ten notes that its business strategy has not been successful to date, despite making significant progress. The result has been its decision to enter voluntary administration.

This Government has been in office for almost four years and has done absolutely nothing in this space.  Now it tries to blame Labor.

Two weeks ago, Minister Fifield dragged every media executive to Canberra and was lauded as the industry’s ‘Golden Boy’. Golden Boy is yet to introduce a legislative package into Parliament. Now he seeks to prey on the anxiety that will be felt by all workers at Network Ten.

This Minister has no class.

Today it was also announced that 1,400 Telstra workers would lose their jobs as a result of decisions by the company. You don’t see Labor blaming the Communications Minister for this outcome.