Policies

Communications and Media

Jun 22, 2016 UniPollWatch

The Greens

The Greens Party organises its media and communication policies around three key principles. It believes that media diversity is a right; that community media should be funded, and that the internet should remain open and transparent and available to all. Senator Scott Ludlum is the spokesperson for Media and Communication.

POLICY SUMMARY

In the name of media diversity, the Greens want a limitation on the number of media outlets that an individual or individual company can own or control; the independence of the SBS and ABC; and the presence of Australian content on all media, including free-to-air broadcast of events that are important in cultural and sporting life.
The Greens support adequate funding of community media, including the ABC and SBS, the Australian film industry, and libraries;
In the name of '#openinternet', the Greens want Internet access to be affordable and reliable to all. They want construction of the NBN to be 'fibre to the premises' and believe that regulation of the internet should be transparent and accountable;

Explanation

In addition to these key principles, the Greens have another few ambitions. These include:

Journalism:

  • The Greens wish to reform defamation law in order to protect individuals when a defamation action is designed to stifle participation in public debate;
  • The Greens support the protection of anonymous journalistic sources;

Copyright:

  • The greens wish to reform copyright law and licensing to give clearer guidelines for fair use, crown copyright and public domain works;
  • The Greens wish to have free and open publishing of academic research that is publicly funded within twelve months of initial publication, and establishment of a digital archive for this research;

Miscellaneous:

  • The Greens support keeping Australia Post publicly owned;
  • The Greens support the regulation of the video games industry to ensure children are not exposed to excessive violence or sexual content;
  • The Greens wish for greater transparency in the work of the Australian Classification Board, Office of Film and Literature Classification;
  • The Greens support a consistent approach to the sale of X-rated material across Australia;
  • The Greens wish to have so-called ‘truth in political advertising’ laws to be legislated;

Australian Labor Party

The ALP’s communications and media policies were announced by spokesperson Jason Clare, MP for Blaxland, in mid-June 2016, and confirmed in the party’s platform, which was released in the lead-up to its campaign launch.

POLICY SUMMARY

Fibre-to-the-premises will be the main model for the NBN rollout once again;
The NBN is to be completed by 2022, with a capped cost of $57 billion that will take priority over the number of homes and businesses receiving fibre-to-the-premises in the initial rollout;
The ALP supports funding of the eHealth record system and Broadband for Seniors program, both of which use the NBN;
The ALP does not support any changes to the Racial Discrimination Act;
The ALP supports the maintenance of the National Classification Code;
The ALP will adequately resource the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), ABC, SBS and NITV;
The ALP will review legislation that allows for the retention of telecommunications data and the access to that data by law enforcement and national security agencies;

Explanation

The ALP’s policy centres most on the NBN, which looms again as a significant issue in the election campaign. The 2016 policy that Clare announced does not represent a significant departure from the policy that Labor took to the 2013 election. Should the ALP win government, fibre-to-the-premises (as opposed to fibre-to-the-node) will again become the preferred model. Clare has argued that the drop in Australia’s average internet speeds—from thirtieth fastest in the world in 2013 to sixtieth in 2016—underlines the need for the Labor Party’s NBN model. He also argues that the maintenance costs of the Coalition’s copper network will ultimately drive the cost of the NBN higher than it would be with a fibre-to-the-premises rollout.

That said, the ALP’s policy places a cap on how much it is willing to spend on the network. In addition, the ALP’s promise to honour contracts entered into by the Coalition Government, and the Coalition Government’s work on the NBN in the intervening years, has forced the ALP to plan its rollout of the NBN in two stages rather than one. 

The ALP’s position on the media reforms proposed by the Coalition Government is likely to be one of support, but the Party has not announced a final position on the removal of the restrictions of ownership and reach.

Liberal Party

The Liberal Party’s communications and media policies stem largely from those begun and implemented since 2013, when it took government. Until September 2015, Malcolm Turnbull was the responsible minister; since then, it has been Senator Mitch Fifield.

POLICY SUMMARY

The Liberal Party supports the repeal of the ‘two out of three’ media ownership laws, which prevent individuals or companies controlling a radio, television and newspaper within a specified radio license area;
The Liberal Party supports the repeal of the ‘75 per cent reach rule’, which prevents an individual or company from exercising control of a commercial television broadcaster that reaches 75 per cent of the population of Australia;
The Liberal Party supports building the NBN using a fibre-to-the-node model. The Liberal Party intends to have this completed by 2020 at a cost of $49 billion;
The Liberal Party intends to invest $60 million extra into the Mobile Black Spot Programme to improve mobile phone coverage in regional and remote Australia;

Explanation

Within the Communications and Media portfolio, the Liberal Party's attention has largely been focused on the NBN. Under Malcolm Turnbull, the rollout model was altered from fibre-to-the-premises to fibre-to-the-node. The change was made in the name of saving money and completing the rollout more quickly. Although it has proved controversial, the LIberal Party boasts that its policy is working, with more than 50,000 homes per month being connected to the NBN.

Policies and proposals to reform the media sector came late in the Liberal Party's term, and are focused on three strands: the repeal of the 'two out of three' rule and '75 per cent reach rule,' and a provision that would require a higher level of local content to be broadcast on regional television stations.

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