Jun 26, 2012

Question Without Notice – The Role of the Media

JOHN MURPHY (Member for Reid) – My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport representing the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.   Will the Minister outline for the House the role of the media in reporting the facts on an issue impartially, accurately and with integrity?

ANTHONY ALBANESE – I thank the Member for Reid for his question and his ongoing interest in media issues.  It is indeed vital that the media take seriously their responsibility to report the facts with honesty and integrity.  The media’s main role is to report the news, not to make the news.  I know the vast majority of the Press Gallery do their jobs with integrity each and every day, right across the spectrum.  But there are some examples that should serve as cautionary tales.

In 2009 the Godwin Grech affair, also known as Ute-gate and broken by Steve Lewis of News Limited, showed that certain parts of the media were involved in the attempted sabotage of a democratically elected government.  Time and the truth ultimately brought out the real story in that matter.

Now we are seeing another example that should be taken extremely seriously.  Members will recall the splash, again by Steve Lewis, on 20 April about allegations of sexual harassment against the Speaker.

I am also very mindful of those [sub judice] issues, which is why I am referring to articles published online today as a result of the release of documents publicly by the Court.  An article in the Sydney Morning Herald titled: ‘We will get him!’

It is very clear that we need to draw a distinction and that people in the media need to recognise whether they are reporters or participants, observers or activists.  There is an important distinction between the two that has to be upheld for the sake of the integrity of the media.

The fact is that the first I knew about those allegations was when they were published in the Daily Telegraph.  I am not surprised that, given the reports today outlining the active involvement prior to the publication of those allegations… [interrupted]

I conclude by saying this is an issue which involves taxpayers directly.  We are talking about an issue that involves taxpayers’ interests and whether when someone was on the taxpayers’ payroll they were meeting in News Ltd’s Holt Street headquarters.


Following the conclusion of Question Time:

ANTHONY ALBANESE – Deputy Speaker, for your consideration of whether it is appropriate to incorporate the tabling of the website in Hansard, the Federal Court have put all the documents up on a special page on their website today, available for all to read.

With every complaint, the Liberal and National Parties show exactly that they are in this up to their necks.