To: The Prime Minister
Legislate urgently to ensure editorial independence of large media organisations
I request that you legislate urgently to require that the Board members and managements of large media organisations that provide services in Australia be required to guarantee editorial independence. A model for the requirements of this legislation would be the Fairfax Charter of Editorial Independence.
Why is this important?
This legislation is urgently needed because mining magnate, Gina Rinehart, is moving fast to gain major influence over the editorial content of the Fairfax Media group. Given Australia's highly concentrated media, this poses a major threat to our democracy.
Malcolm Fraser: "A mining magnate has specific industry interests that are not necessarily those of Australia."
Malcolm Turnbull: ''If Fairfax … were seen to be a mouthpiece of Gina Rinehart and a spokesvehicle for the mining industry, that would undermine its business model dramatically,''
Wayne Swann: "No one has so blatantly and so publicly said that they intend to impose their commercial imperatives on the essential role of journalists when they are trying to report in a fair and balanced way." "I think that has very bad impacts for our democracy."
Scott Ludlam: "There is now an urgent case for legislation that would bind media company directors and board members to stay out of editorial decisions." "I think there is a real urgency with this and yesterday's announcement really sharpens the urgency of bringing such an instrument forward."
The first line of defence in this issue is to stiffen the spine of the Fairfax Board to insist that Rinehart signs the Fairfax Charter of Editorial Independence before she is allowed to have a seat on the Board. GetUp is running a very successful write-in campaign at the moment aimed at the Fairfax Board.
But a second line of defence is needed. Rinehart could take over Fairfax and then she can legally change the Board and scrap the Charter. That is why we need this petition to push for legislative change so that super-rich people or corporations can't just buy large media organisations and turn them into propaganda machines.