SUBJECTS: Housing affordability, media reform.
GILBERT: Joining me on the program now is Labor's communications spokesperson Michelle Rowland. A lot to talk about in a brief amount of time, but I do want to start on the speech that Scott Morrison's going to give today Michelle in relation to supply being the problem for housing affordability not so much investors, and in the process having a go at Labor's negative gearing approach as well. As a Western Sydney MP what are your thoughts on how best to deal with this?
MICHELLE ROWLAND, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: From what I've read of Scott Morrison's views that he will present today he's giving some statements of the bleeding obvious, that housing affordability is getting out of reach and is out of reach for so many people. And as someone who represents one of the fastest growth areas, if not in New South Wales all of Australia, I can tell you that it has been a significant issue for a very long time, which is why Labor has been soundly prosecuting the case for reform in this area. And what has the government come up with so far? It's only advice is to get rich parents. We've had people such as Joe Hockey, who in his valedictory speech called for negative gearing reform. We know that Scott Morrison himself recognised the need to curb what he called 'excesses' in system. But what I see here from the comments that have been made available is that Scott Morrison is seeking to fob this off on to state and local authorities. Now Kieran as someone who has been in local government I can tell you for a fact that it is the objective of all local government authorities to have approvals done as quickly as possible, as methodically as possible within the scope of the environment plans that the state government sets down, and to ensure that that is balanced against community interests. But we have a situation where the government went into the last election, barely mentioned the issue of housing affordability, while Labor announced our policy for negative gearing reform in February the government has been in complete disarray. It appears yet again that Scott Morrison is not going to support reform in this area, and while he fails to recognise that elephant in the room I'm afraid that we are not going to see substantive change.
GILBERT: In the communications area, your area of responsibility, this week the Senate Committee looking at the Turnbull Government's proposed media reforms. The two out of three rule and the reach rule to go under these pre-internet laws, which were established prior to the revolution that's really brought to the media landscape of the internet. Are you supportive of the government's agenda on this?
ROWLAND: Labor's made it very clear that we support the repeal of the reach rule, and in fact that was something that we would have done in government. As to the two out of three rule we've also made it very clear that we are yet to be convinced of the merits of removing this rule. It is a fact Kieran that of the top 10 news sites, seven of them are still owned by traditional media companies. We have the same voices being delivered on different platforms, but I think the other important point to note is this: we know that there are challenges for broadcasters in this space, be it competing for advertising dollars, competing with overseas providers, having their own rules around local content obligations, having licence fees imposed on them whereas other entities do not bear such obligations. But my point is this, you cannot take just one segment of this jigsaw that encompasses so much of the communications sphere, fiddle around with it and think that you are just going to fit it back in. That is not how media and not how communications policy should work in this country. So Labor will be awaiting the report of the current inquiry that's going on. But it is very disappointing Kieran that some months ago when I pointed out that we needed an objective analysis, not only of the levels of concentration in the Australian media but also going forward what sort of holistic changes we should make, the Minister and the Government just ruled this out altogether. We didn't hear a peep from them about this during the election campaign, all of a sudden it is screamingly urgent. But it's important to note we see that AT&T and Time Warner are looking at M&A activity at the moment. Even the Americans have woken up to the fact that the levels of concentration is a serious issue to contend with.
GILBERT: And we're seeing that with the latest bid by AT&T. I just want to apologise a bit briefer than normal, Michelle Rowland we'll talk to you soon though.