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Government Announces Media Inquiry Terms of Reference

The terms of reference for an independent media inquiry have been announced by the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy.

The inquiry will be conducted by Ray Finkelstein QC, a former Justice of the Federal Court. He will be assisted by Dr. Matthew Ricketson, a former journalist and now Professor of Journalism at Canberra University.

The inquiry will not report on media ownership. Its terms of reference cover media codes of practice, the effect of technological change, and the independence of the Australian Press Council.

Text of media release from Senator Conroy:

Government announces Independent Media Inquiry

The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, today announced an independent inquiry into the Australian media.

“A healthy and robust media is essential to the democratic process,” Senator Conroy said.

“The Australian Government believes it is incumbent upon government to ensure regulatory processes and industry structures are sufficiently strong to support the continuation of a healthy and independent media that is able to fulfil its essential democratic purpose, and to operate in the public interest.” [Read more…]


NBN Business Case Released

The NBN Business Case report has been released by the federal government.

Pressure for release of the National Broadband Network business case has been mounting for some time.

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, accompanied by Wayne Swan, Senator Conroy, Senator Wong, and the Chairman of NBNCo, Mike Quigley, held a press conference in Canberra today to release the report. [Read more…]


Current Federal Parliamentary Party Leaders

Each political party represented in the Federal Parliament elects leaders in each house.

Just as the government is decided in the House of Representatives, so the parties elect their leaders and deputy leaders from amongst their representatives in the House. If the party is not represented in the lower house, its leader will be chosen from amongst its members in the Senate.

House of Representatives
Party Leader Deputy Leader
Liberal Party John Howard
Member for Bennelong (NSW)
Peter Costello
Member for Higgins (Vic)
National Party Mark Vaile
Member for Lyne (NSW)
Warren Truss
Member for Wide Bay (Qld)
Australian Labor Party Kevin Rudd
Member for Griffith (Qld)
Julia Gillard
Member for Lalor (Vic)


The major parties also elect leaders and deputy leaders in the Senate. These people form part of the leadership group and act as the focal point for their parties in the upper house.

For example, the current Liberal Party leader in the Senate, Nick Minchin, is referred to as the Government Leader in the Senate. Senator Chris Evans is referred to as the Opposition Leader in the Senate.

Senate
Party Leader Deputy Leader
Liberal Party Senator Nick Minchin
(South Australia)
Senator Helen Coonan
(New South Wales)
National Party Senator Ron Boswell
(Queensland)
Senator Nigel Scullion
(Northern Territory)
Australian Labor Party Senator Chris Evans
(Western Australia)
Senator Stephen Conroy
(Victoria)
Australian Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett
(Queensland)
Senator Lyn Allison
(Victoria)
Australian Greens Senator Bob Brown
(Tasmania)
Family First Senator Steve Fielding
(Victoria)


Footnote: Convention dictates that the official leader of the main parties will be a member of the House of Representatives. In 1968, following the death of its Prime Minister, Harold Holt, the Liberal Party chose its upper house leader, Senator John Gorton, as the new prime minister. Gorton immediately resigned his Senate seat and contested the by-election for Holt’s lower house electorate, Higgins. Thus, Australia had a prime minister for several weeks who was not a member of either house. This is allowed for in Section 64 of the Constitution.


Rudd Launches Broadband Policy; Abandons Opposition To Telstra Sale

The Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd, has announced an election policy which commits the ALP to investing up to $4.7 billion in partnership with the private sector to build a broadband service that will cover 98 per cent of the population and deliver speeds forty times faster than currently available.

Describing the policy as a contribution to “nation building for the future”, Rudd said a commitment to broadband infrastructure was on a par with the commitment to railway construction in the nineteenth century.

Rudd said the policy would be funded with $2 billion from the existing communications fund with the remainder to be taken from the Future Fund’s 17 per cent share of Telstra. This proposal led to a savage response from the Treasurer, Peter Costello, in Question Time.

The Shadow Minister for Finance, Lindsay Tanner, said the ALP now accepted that it had lost the fight to retain Telstra in public ownership and is now “absolutely committed to building the broadband network of the future”. [Read more…]


Laurie Ferguson Lashes Stephen Conroy Whilst Latham Reflects On His Leadership Style

After a weekend of confrontation with Senator Stephen Conroy, Mark Latham commented on his leadership style.

Meanwhile, Laurie Ferguson, the ALP member for Reid since 1990, offered Shadow Immigration Minister Conroy a free character analysis and political assessment. [Read more…]


ALP Attacks Government For Selling Out Australian Farmers In FTA

The Labor Opposition has attacked the Free Trade Agreement with the United States as a sell-out of Australian farmers, particularly those in the sugar, dairy and beef industries.

The agreement was announced today.

The ALP has also criticised the proposed changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and patent laws. [Read more…]


The ‘Death’ Of David Feeney

It says something about the alertness of the newspaper’s classified advertising staff that this ‘death’ notice appears in today’s edition of The Age:

FEENEY, David

Beloved friend of Bill. Life tragically shortened after a brief battle with M.A.

Your stacks of friends will mourn your passing. Those left will never forget.

        “Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand”.

Love Delia and Reg.

[Read more…]