SUBJECTS: Marriage Equality, Media Reforms
DAN BOURCHIER: You’re listening to ABC Radio Canberra. Well Federal Parliament is sitting this week, lots of discussion about same-sex marriage about that vote, where you will be able to vote in that postal vote, and media law reform legislation as well here with me to discuss those big matters and some others if we’ve got time Labor MP for Canberra Gai Brodtmann and Victorian Liberal Senator Jane Hume, good morning to both of you.
JANE HUME: Hi Dan.
GAI BRODTMANN: Hi Dan.
BOURCHIER: Thanks for coming along, look the big story of course that is dominating is around this postal vote, lots of the controversy over comedian Tim Minchin. I want to play you a little bit of his song and just to warn you it is controversial and we’ll discuss why in a tick.
***Plays Tim Minchin’s Marriage Equality song.***
MINCHIN: But no matter how far or how wide I roam, I still call Australia home-ophobic. I’m always travelling but wherever I stay people love Aussies and they generally say they think we’re kind, fun and funny, tall, tanned and toned, and a little bit racist and a little bit home-ophobic.
BOURCHIER: Well it’s certainly caused some controversy, Senator what do you make of it?
HUME: I actually think Tim Minchin is very, very funny, but I think that this is probably unnecessary, the whole point that we’ve been making is that this should be a very respectful debate. And while you should always expect comedians to parody politicians it is part of the job, it’s an occupational hazard. I think that this may be going a bit far, and it’s a bit much coming from a fella that is based in California. Casting assertions across the oceans, so hopefully he’ll come home and vote yes in the postal plebiscite.
BOURCHIER: What do you make of it Gai Brodtmann?
BRODTMANN: Well it just highlights the fact that there are going to be a number of opinions on this, but what Labor has always been concerned about is the fact that we do need to have a respectful debate on this. Our view has always been that the cheapest, and fastest, and easiest and hopefully most respectful way of addressing this issue is to have a free vote in parliament. Now we’re looking potentially at this 122 million dollar postal survey, and it’s going to be expensive and we’re also concerned that it’s going to be divisive in the community. We’re out there and we’re going to be encouraging people, subject of course to the High Court decision to vote yes, and we are encouraging people to sign up on the AEC and the response has been phenomenal so far, I’ve heard that tens of thousands.
HUME: Seventy thousand I heard, seventy thousand new people signing up, that’s got to be good for democracy, and all Australians get their say.
BOURCHIER: Well I wondered, I did see a tweet during the week, and I did wonder whether that was the consequence or the real aim of this was to get more people on the books for the AEC. But perhaps not the case, it seems to me there is a point of unity here, you’re both saying you’ll be voting yes and encouraging your constituents and the people you know?
HUME: Absolutely I’m hoping to sign up as many people as possible, and encourage as many people as possible to vote yes. I think there is an awful lot of people from the Coalition that are in favour of same-sex marriage and would like to see all Australians have their say on this very important issue.
BRODTMANN: Of course I’m voting yes and encouraging people to vote yes, I voted yes in 2012 and my speech is there for people to see the reasons why, and I’m encouraging Canberrans to get out there and enrol if they haven’t, because we know at the last election we had more than 250 thousand young Australians who hadn’t been signed up to vote. So this has been mobilising them to do that, and I do understand that a large proportion of that 70 thousand are young Australians which is a good thing.
HUME: It’s terrific.
BRODTMANN: We want a free vote in Parliament. We believe that is the easiest, cheapest and most respectful way of addressing this issue, but we have potentially what we have at the moment so we just have to get on with it and ensure that people get out and vote yes and sign up to vote.
BOURCHIER: Absolutely, there has been so much discussion about this and it’s not going anywhere in a hurry, but do sign up you can get details on the electoral commission website or if you google this debate anywhere you will be able to get the details. Just on another matter there has been a lot of discussion over the last couple of months about media reform, the two out of three rule, the reach rule, all of those, where is that at Senator Hume?
HUME: Well that is being backed up by an additional round of media law reforms that are supporting those original two out of three and reach rule changes. This new round of media law reform is around things like guaranteeing local content and children’s content.
BOURCHIER: That’s a concern isn’t it that by changing the reach rule and the two out of three rule you remove some of the qualifiers of how much of that content there needs to be.
HUME: Essentially what these reforms are repositioning the industry to better reflect current media use and current media proliferation. The new kinds of media that people are using and listening to, but we want to make sure that Australian content and children’s content are protected, we want to make sure that things like gambling advertising is limited during children’s watching hours and sports.
BRODTMANN: Well we understand the competitive pressures that the industry is under today; it’s a rapidly changing industry so we do understand those pressures which is why we support most of this legislation. That said we are concerned and we have been concerned for a very long time, we’ve been crystal clear and unwavering about the two out of three rule, and we’re concerned about the fact that this just ensures concentration, we want many voices in the market, we want greater diversity in the market, we have one of the most concentrated media markets in the world and this has been fact checked. We have one of the most concentrated media markets in the world, we want as many diverse voices in the market it’s good for democracy and it’s in the public interest.
BOURCHIER: Will this change that necessarily?
BRODTMANN: Well our concern is that it will, which is why we have concerns about that two out of three rule. Also there is this talk that it is creating diversity in the internet market; well that’s just not the case. Seven out of ten organisations in the internet market are from the traditional media.
HUME: I think one of the most encouraging things about the changes we are proposing here though is that they have received unanimous support from Australia’s media industry which is not an easy thing to obtain. But they have been very considered, the deliberations have been very thorough, and I think we have found a path forward, I think you’ve heard from Gai and I today that we’re in [inaudible] agreement about what it is that we want to see from our industry and I think this is a terrific way forward.
BRODTMANN: Well the thing is the government has been sitting on their hands on this for a very, very long time. We also called for it given the changes, the rapidly evolving changes that are taking place in the market at the moment, so we have been calling for a review. The last review that was conducted in this industry was in 2000, we’ve been calling for a review on broadcasting but the government has been sitting on its hands.
BOURCHIER: And we are seeing changes at a rate of knots it seems like every other day there is a shift, particularly in digital media which is a really fascinating one where does that sit in the debate?
HUME: Well I think the media reforms that we are talking about today are all encompassing whether it be digital media or traditional forms, which is why the media industry has given us unanimous support for the changes that we are proposing, both in the changes of ownership laws, the two out of three and the 75 percent reach rule, but also in these additional reforms that cover local content, they cover licensing fees, they cover gambling advertising there is a broad range of reforms there and they get unanimous support from industry.
BOURCHIER: The final say Gai Brodtmann.
BRODTMANN: Dan I just wanted to go back to the postal survey and underscore the need for respect in this. On Friday my office had a number of calls from the yes campaign and the no campaign, and some of them were incredibly abusive, so I do ask that Canberrans engage in a respectful discussion on this issue. I was very concerned about the abuse that my staff were undergoing, and I don’t know whether Jane you had it, but we’re talking about young people many of them volunteers and it’s just not on, there needs to be a respectful debate on this and this is what we were worried about in the first place.
HUME: Both sides of the debate should remain respectful.
BOURCHIER: Absolutely I think the key to this is letting everyone have a say in this without the bigotry and the anger. Thanks to both of you we’ve run right out of time here, time flies doesn’t it? Labor MP for Canberra Gai Brodtmann and Liberal Senator for Victoria Jane Hume thank you both so much for your time.
Both HUME and BRODTMANN: Thanks Dan.