The Federal Government is one step closer to passing its shake-up of media laws after striking a deal with One Nation, but still does not have the votes, with Labor and the Greens remaining opposed.
- Pauline Hanson gives “conditional support” in return for investigation into ABC
- Sarah Hanson-Young says One Nation deal will undermine ABC’s independence
- Media laws architect Bridget McKenzie says reforms will come at no additional cost to budget
Senator Pauline Hanson has given the “conditional support” of the four One Nation senators in return for an investigation into the ABC’s balance, its commitment to regional areas, and power to reveal the salaries of its top broadcasters.
But even with her support, the Coalition needs to win the support of key crossbenchers in the Nick Xenophon Team, or convince Labor and the Greens to change their mind.
Those two parties are still negotiating with the Government but have made it clear they will not support a “dirty deal” with One Nation.
The Coalition wants to scrap measures such as the so-called “two-out-of-three” rule, which prevents a company owning a TV station, newspaper and radio station in the one licence area.
It would also end the “reach rule”, which prevents a single TV station from reaching more than 75 per cent of the population.
Senator Hanson said she had a “hot and cold relationship” with the media but was genuinely concerned for the industry’s future.
Media laws architect lobbies crossbench
Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie has been lobbying for many of the changes that have been included in the One Nation deal, and is now campaigning Senate crossbenchers to support the agreement, arguing there was “no additional cost to budget in any of these measures”.
“It is merely asking the ABC to be more accountable,” Senator McKenzie said.
“I think the fact that the measures outlined in my private senator’s bill are actually quite cost effective, there will be a number of crossbench senators that want to see increased transparency, accountability from our public broadcaster.”
Senator McKenzie called for two members of the public broadcaster’s board to come from regional Australia, a prescribed amount of regional news broadcasts, and the introduction of a rural and regional advisory council to the board.
But Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the One Nation deal would undermine the ABC’s independence and “take an axe” to online video platforms.
She said Senator Hanson had a “grudge” against public broadcasters and an investigation into balance would open “a hornet’s nest” of complaints about the ABC.
“Make no mistake, Pauline Hanson has the ABC and SBS in her sights and she wants to damage,” Senator Hanson-Young said.
“She wants to attack them, she wants to cut their funding, and she wants to stop them being able to broadcast online.”
Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said he was still concerned about the concentration of media ownership.
“We won’t support what seems to be a dirty deal done with One Nation,” he told Lateline.