Division of Petrie (green), within Queensland (courtesy Wikipedia)
By Spencer D Gear
I read in The Australian newspaper online (3 March 2012), “Media fears for freedom as watchdog unleashed“, that
PRINT and online news will come under direct federal government oversight for the first time under proposals issued yesterday to create a statutory regulator with the power to prosecute media companies in the courts.
This historic change to media law would break with tradition by using government funds to replace an industry council that acts on complaints, in a move fiercely opposed by companies as a threat to the freedom of the press.
The proposals, issued yesterday by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, also seek to widen the scope of federal oversight to cover print, online, radio and TV within a single regulator for the first time.
Bloggers and other online authors would also be captured by a regime applying to any news site that gets more than 15,000 hits a year, a benchmark labelled “seriously dopey” by one site operator….
Greens leader Bob Brown urged the government to establish its new media watchdog so it could enforce standards across print, online, radio and television platforms by the end of the year.
While Fairfax Media said it would comment on the report “in the coming days”, the company’s submission to the Finkelstein inquiry objected to compulsory membership of a media regulator in a statutory scheme.
News Limited chief executive Kim Williams welcomed the report as a substantial work but spoke strongly against the concept of a government regulator.
“The spectre of a government-funded overseer of a free press in an open and forward-looking democracy like ours cannot be justified,” Mr Williams said.
“If print and online media are to continue to be able to robustly question, challenge and keep governments in check, they must remain self-regulated entirely independent of government.”
Family listening to crystal radio in 1920s (courtesy Wikipedia)
Therefore, I wrote to my local Federal MP, Mrs Yvette D’Ath (Labor Party), Member for Petrie, on 5 March 2012 to protest this interference. I wrote out of deep concern over what her Federal Labor Government was planning on doing to censor Australia’s mass media, including the Internet.
That the federal government should even be considering this legislation shows how out of touch it is with the democratic principles on which Australia was founded.
We live in a robust democracy which, up to this point, has freedom of speech. This move by the federal government to censor Australia’s mass media cuts to the heart of our democracy.
This move by your government installs censorship of horrific proportions. I don’t always agree with what the mass media (including the Internet) promotes, but the way to deal with it is not through censorship. Guaranteed freedom of speech is the way forward.
This is draconian, antiquated, communist-style, proposed legislation that would be more at-home in Stalin’s Soviet Union and Mao’s China.
Is this a statement about where the Australian Labor government is heading?
As my local member of federal parliament, I urged Mrs D’Ath to kill this proposed legislation by crossing the floor and not voting for it. I asked her to advise me what she would be doing about supporting or rejecting this legislation. However, that would have been a waste of time asking as the Labor Party would vote in a block according to its policy. It would not have proposed this legislation if it were not harmonious with Labor Party policy.
A visualization of routing paths through a portion of the Internet (Wikipedia).
Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 3 November 2015.