| February 24, 2022

Labor forced to back down on regional newspaper attack

The Andrews Labor Government has backtracked on its plan to take revenue from regional newspapers after strenuous opposition from the Nationals and the community.

Labor’s Regulatory Legislation Amendment (Reform) Bill 2021, introduced in Parliament earlier in February, sought to remove a requirement for the state government and local councils to communicate changes and consultation opportunities via regional print publications.

Such public notices represent thousands of dollars in revenue for regional media organisations.

Member for Lowan Emma Kealy said the Nationals and Liberals vehemently opposed the changes in the Legislative Assembly of Parliament after speaking with local communities and regional newspaper editors.

“The legislative requirement for local councils and state governments to put community notices in the paper when they’re going to make changes is a crucial part of a transparent, accountable government,” she said.

“But the Andrews Labor Government’s reforms sought to take that away, instead moving these notices them to a yet-to-be-determined website, buried somewhere in the depths of the web.

“The Premier’s admission yesterday that the government got it wrong and needs to make changes before the bill goes to the Legislative Council appears to be a step in the right direction, but we’ll be waiting to see the detail.

“Sadly, we know from experience that what the Andrews Labor Government says and what it does are two different things.”

Ms Kealy said transparency on government change was an important part of open and honest government. She said government advertising was also an important source of revenue for small country papers.

“Labor’s move abandoned our country papers by taking out another reliable, constant source of advertising and callously gutting the viability of their business,” she said.

“The Liberals and Nationals will be closely examining the detail of the amendments to this bill and will fight to ensure all Victorians can continue to be informed of what’s going on in their local community.

“Our communities deserve confidence as Victoria looks to recover and rebuild. Only the Liberals and Nationals will stand up for regional Victorians.”

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