The Greens’ Sarah Hanson-Young has won support for a Senate inquiry into media diversity, following the popularity of Kevin Rudd’s petition for a royal commission into News Corp.
According to Guardian Australia, former prime ministers Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull, who have both been outspoken against News Corp, will be called to give evidence.
Senator Hanson-Young told the outlet that it was essential both be allowed to “speak frankly and have the protection of parliamentary privilege, which is important when you’re talking about issues of power and influence”.
The inquiry will examine the independence and reliability of Australia’s press, look into the dominance of Facebook and Google, and assess the impacts of the loss of small publishers.
The terms of reference for the Senate inquiry do not mention News Corp.
However, News Corp Australia’s editors and commercial executives, alongside independent and regional and rural editors, would be called to give evidence, Hanson-Young told Guardian Australia.
Breaking: The Senate has agreed to establish an Inquiry into media diversity following the record breaking petition promoted by @MrKRudd.
Australians have become increasingly concerned about the concentration of media ownership and the power and political influence of Murdoch.
— 💚🌏 Sarah Hanson-Young (@sarahinthesen8) November 11, 2020
News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller told The Australian the company “has been a participant in at least nine media inquiries held over the past decade”.
“As always, we will continue to constructively engage in these important conversations,” he said.
The environment and communications references committee is due to report by the end of November 2021. It will call for submissions immediately.
The government did not oppose the motion in the Senate so it passed without a vote.
Our parliamentary petition for a #MurdochRoyalCommission is already having an effect. Today Labor and the minor parties voted to establish a Senate Inquiry into media diversity. A useful first step to a full Royal Commission. https://t.co/I5GTG0w3vv pic.twitter.com/rKNjca83v9
— Kevin Rudd (@MrKRudd) November 11, 2020
“It’s clear from the half a million signatures on the record-breaking petition for a royal commission into media diversity that Australians are very concerned about the concentration of media ownership and the power and political influence of Murdoch,” Hanson-Young, who chairs the environment and communications references committee, said, via Guardian Australia.
“As a parliament, it was right that we acted on those concerns. The media landscape in Australia has been changing rapidly. We need to ensure we have a strong and independent public interest news industry to support our democracy.”
She added: “The dominance of Facebook and Google has been ever-increasing and this inquiry will also provide an opportunity for a proper consideration of how that is impacting media diversity.”
Featured image source: Facebook/Senator Sarah Hanson-Young