BRISBANE, Australia — Job losses in the Australian state of Queensland’s regional media have prompted a “journalism rescue plan” from Katter’s Australian Party, which blames government inaction and private sector callousness for the industry’s decline.
Katter’s Australian Party leader Robbie Katter said the plan aims to secure state and federal government support for regional journalists, photographers, and camera operators affected by the industry’s volatility in Queensland.
He says journalists in regional areas were being left jobless in a once-thriving industry and rural and regional residents, unable to access local and reliable news content, would be the biggest victims.
“A well-informed public is vital to the functioning of a democracy and while I’m sure certain political leaders in our midst would prefer less scrutiny, KAP MPs are not among them,” Katter said on July 14.
“Local journalism is on its knees, and this is in no one’s best interest.
“If the government and media organizations work cohesively, we believe new opportunities can be created for journalism in regional Queensland.”
A major publisher in 2020 restructured its print business in Queensland with the majority of papers closed and some moved to digital-only mediums.
In September it also ceased distributing some titles to certain parts of regional Queensland, including Mount Isa and Longreach.
In recent months, a regional television news channel changed its coverage to a statewide bulletin, axing nine local news bulletins in Victoria and Queensland, and another popular news broadcasting company has ceased its local bulletins in Victoria, Queensland, and southern New South Wales.
As part of his bid, Katter is pushing for legislated regional quotas for broadcast news, similar to content quotas legislated for the networks by the federal government.
He is also calling on the reinstatement of legislation requiring the state government to advertise its official notices in print publications in regional communities where they exist.
“What we are asking from the government and these major media Moghuls in the industry is that… Firstly we need some regulation so that there’s content quotas for these people so they are obligated to provide some sort of service if they want to participate in the regional market.” Katter said in a video on his Youtube channel.
“The second thing that we’re after..from the government is that they go back on what was decided and they advertise in local papers and another thing is some support, initially, for the papers to get off the ground for delivery.. And get through this period.”
Katter’s Australian Party also wants subsidies for remote newspaper delivery costs and other incentives for regional community media organizations to continue trading and employing local talent.
Katter said that the party would write to both state and federal governments for support in providing a future for regional journalism.
“One station in regional Queensland has stopped all its local news and another has cut back to a statewide service, this isn’t acceptable,” he said.
“We need our stories told in the regions; the cities already ignore us enough as it is.”
(Edited by Vaibhav Pawar and Krishna Kakani)
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