It’s easy to see why regional media companies are so frustrated with the performance of Communications Minister Mitch Fifield.
It’s been more than a year since Senator Fifield announced that the Turnbull Government’s flawed media reform legislation would be introduced into Parliament.
Since then, and despite having the support of Labor to repeal the 75 per cent reach rule and bolster local content following a trigger event, the Minister has failed to make any progress.
The Minister arrogantly dismissed Labor’s amendment to permit the repeal of the 75 per cent reach rule and strengthening of local content obligations, which could have seen those changes pass both Houses of Parliament last year.
Now another Parliamentary session has closed and Senator Fifield didn’t even list his own media reform legislation for debate.
Last week the Senate spent more than 18 hours debating proposed changes to Section 18C. If Senator Fifield was serious he would have managed to get his own media reform Bill on the agenda ahead of the disgraceful plans to weaken protections against racist hate speech.
The media industry is rightly fed-up with repeated delays. In the time the Minister has spent dithering there could and should have been a comprehensive, evidence-based inquiry into the ownership and control rules, content rules and licence fees in the context of the contemporary digital media environment.
The media sector needs a comprehensive vision and sound principles-based policy to ensure our media laws support a both thriving democracy and a competitive media sector.
What hope does it have with this Minister in charge?