Politics live as Turnbull government celebrates a milestone and debates media changes, energy

If you’re just joining me there’s a few things going on:

  • there’s some fiery words being thrown around as the government’s media industry changes are debated;
  • independent senator Jacqui Lambie accused MPs who support the changes of being “a disgusting bunch of individuals”;
  • Senator Lambie feels One Nation and the Nick Xenophon Team are selling out the ABC and the SBS to get the changes through;
  • the changes will remove many of the ownership restrictions that were put in place in the 1980s to ensure a diversity of media voices.

Mr Porter said “immediacy provides a fortnightly incentive and reminder which will even further lift up vaccination rates”.

He is confident we will reach vaccination rates of 95 per cent in all children, the level at which a community achieves “herd immunity” (which means enough people are vaccinated that diseases won’t spread).

Social Services Minister Christian Porter during a doorstop interview on Thursday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

One of the government’s most popular policies has been its ‘no jab no play’ program which withholds family tax payments from parents who do not have a valid reason for not immunising their children.

210,000 families have caught up on vaccinations since the policy was introduced at the start of 2016.

Social Services Minister Christian Porter has announced there will be a change to the way the money is withheld from parents who do not vaccinate their children. From 1 July 2018, parents will lose money each fortnight – rather than losing a lump sum at the end of the year.

Social Services Minister Christian Porter addresses the media at Parliament House on Thursday.
Social Services Minister Christian Porter addresses the media at Parliament House on Thursday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

From The Canberra Times’ David Pope.

David Pope editorial cartoon September 14, 2017
David Pope editorial cartoon September 14, 2017 Photo: David Pope

One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts also had some thoughts on the media: “About five years ago, I used to wake up in the morning and check the ABC news website first thing. That’s how I got my news. Then I became so concerned about the distortions and the lack of balance an accuracy that I paid for a subscription to The Australian.”

It’s one of those statements that works on a number of levels.


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“You are a disgusting bunch of individuals at times,” Senator Lambie said.
 

“This is crap,” Senator Lambie said.

The independent said the bigger media players should have seen the changes coming sooner and adapted.

“30 million dollars you go and give to others who are already making an absolute monster out there….They should have got up with the bloody program of the 21st century.”

 

 

Independent senator Jacqui Lambie is not a fan of the ABC measures either.

“To go after the public broadcaster is a disgrace, an absolute disgrace,” Senator Lambie said.

“You’re going after and attacking our own, our very own public broadcasters. What is that? Because they’re one step ahead with iview and their social media platforms?”

With the support of One Nation and the Nick Xenophon Team the government has enough votes to pass the legislation.

One Nation secured government support for – separate – legislation to force the ABC to disclose the salaries of its top paid presenters and requiring it to be “fair and balanced”.

Senator Xenophon does not support this legislation and it will not pass. But One Nation seems content to pass the government’s wider media industry changes anyway.

Senator Nick Xenophon addresses the media on Thursday.
Senator Nick Xenophon addresses the media on Thursday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The legislation has not been passed yet. The government is likely to keep Parliament going until it does.

Labor and the Greens do not support the changes.

Labor senator Sam Dastyari said last night: “You are better than this dirty deal that has been done at the eleventh hour. We are selling our journalism for 60 scholarships? That’s it? I am not against a deal, but make it a good one. How cheap do we have to go in this?”


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Treasurer Scott Morrison has also agreed to have the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission conduct an inquiry into Google, Facebook and other internet giants.

Senator Xenophon says Google and Facebook are “hoovering up” $4 billion in advertising revenue in Australia, but paying little tax.

In exchange for his support, Senate kingmaker Nick Xenophon secured a suite of concessions from the government, including a one-off $60 million fund to support small publishers, journalism scholarships and subsidised journalism cadetships.

This includes $50 million over three years in grants to regional and small publishers, capped at $1 million per publication that is available from mid-2018. He believes these grants will create more jobs and “is there to expend civic journalism”.

News Corp and Fairfax Media, which own many regional newspapers, are ineligible for the new funding, which will be distributed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

Senator Nick Xenophon and Communications Minister Mitch Fifeld in discussion in the Senate on Wednesday.
Senator Nick Xenophon and Communications Minister Mitch Fifeld in discussion in the Senate on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

There will still be some ownership controls and local content requirements.

For example, a single person cannot control more than two radio stations or more than one television station in a single market and there must be a minimum of four “voices” in regional cities and five in big cities.

Each regional market requires 21 minutes of local content a day.

I should point out Fairfax Media – along with the other big media players – were lobbying for this rule to be changed.

Let’s get on to the government’s media changes.

It has – finally – secured the support of the Nick Xenophon Team to reshape the industry.

What’s going is the cross media ownership rule which the government says is “outdated and irrelevant” and prevents a single person controlling print, radio and television in a single city, and ruled no one could broadcast to 100 per cent of the population, hence our regional-only broadcasters. It was supposed to guarantee diversity in the media but has become increasingly irrelevant since this things called the internet came along.

Senator Nick Xenophon and Communications Minister Mitch Fifield in discussion in the Senate on Wednesday.
Senator Nick Xenophon and Communications Minister Mitch Fifield in discussion in the Senate on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

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Before the day clicks on any further let’s pause and congratulate Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce for bringing the colours of Christmas with him today.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce addresses the media on Thursday morning.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce addresses the media on Thursday morning. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

You will find the documents here.

Tabling of the Murphy papers in the House of Representatives on Thursday.
Tabling of the Murphy papers in the House of Representatives on Thursday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The inquiry, which was heard in-camera from May through to August, 1986, was halted when it was revealed that Murphy had terminal cancer. He died in October 1986, aged 64.

Murphy had endured two earlier parliamentary inquiries and two criminal trials. The first found him guilty and saw him sentenced to jail. He successfully appealed and was acquitted at his second trial.

Upon his acquittal, Murphy’s determination to return to the High Court was not greeted enthusiastically by some of his fellow judges, who were rumoured to be threatening to boycott sitting with Murphy.

Facing a potential judicial crisis, the Hawke government ordered a secret inquiry to examine fresh allegations of misconduct on Murphy’s part – that he had offered a bribe to federal police officer Don Thomas.

Parliament is about to begin for the day.

First order of business is the tabling of the Murphy papers, the nation’s most enduring judicial scandal.

The papers have been marked ‘top secret’ for 30 years but today the documents from a 1986 parliamentary commission of inquiry set up to determine Lionel Keith Murphy’s fitness to sit as a judge on the highest court in the land will be released.

Tabling of the Murphy papers in the House of Representatives on Thursday.
Tabling of the Murphy papers in the House of Representatives on Thursday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Indeed.


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