Friday, 6 November 2020

A mega petition is about to be considered by the Australian House of Representatives


The only direct means by which an individual or group can ask Australian parliaments to take action is by means of a written petition.

Australians have always had a right to petition parliament.

One of the most famous petitions would have to be the close to 30,000 signature petition presented to the Parliament of Victoria in September 1891 which asked that “Women should Vote on Equal terms with Men”. This petition played a part in Federation which in 1901 gave women the national right to vote and stand for parliament.

Another petition which isn’t always remembered is the February 2014 Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s petition asking federal parliament “to take whatever action is needed to ensure that community pharmacy receives the funding support it needs to stay in business, serve patients, employ staff and remain open after hours”, which had 1,210,471 signatures.

In 2016 the Australian Parliament introduced the e-petition alternative to paper petitions.

Until recently these e-petitions have contained signature numbers ranging from single figure to 4 figure totals.

However the following e-petition appears to have struck a national chord and its signatures are in the hundreds of thousands……..

Petition EN1938 - Royal Commission to ensure a strong, diverse Australian news media

Petition Reason

Our democracy depends on diverse sources of reliable, accurate and independent news. But media ownership is becoming more concentrated alongside new business models that encourage deliberately polarising and politically manipulated news. We are especially concerned that Australia’s print media is overwhelmingly controlled by News Corporation, founded by Fox News billionaire Rupert Murdoch, with around two-thirds of daily newspaper readership. This power is routinely used to attack opponents in business and politics by blending editorial opinion with news reporting. Australians who hold contrary views have felt intimidated into silence. These facts chill free speech and undermine public debate. Powerful monopolies are also emerging online, including Facebook and Google. We are deeply concerned by: mass-sackings of news journalists; digital platforms impacting on media diversity and viability; Nine Entertainment's takeover of the Melbourne Age and Sydney Morning Herald; News Corp’s acquisition (and then closure) of more than 200 smaller newspapers, undermining regional and local news; attempts to replace AAP Newswire with News Corp’s alternative; and relentless attacks on the ABC’s independence and funding. Professional journalists further have legitimate concerns around unjust searches, potential prosecution, whistle-blower protection, official secrecy and dispute resolution that should be comprehensively addressed. Only a Royal Commission would have the powers and independence to investigate threats to media diversity, and recommend policies to ensure optimal diversity across all platforms to help guarantee our nation’s democratic future.

Petition Request

We therefore ask the House to support the establishment of such a Royal Commission to ensure the strength and diversity of Australian news media.

Number of signatures: 501876 [as at 11:59pm AEDT, 4 November 2020]

Closing date for signatures: 04 November 2020 (11.59pm AEST)

The petition will now be presented to the House of Representatives where MPs already cowed by media monopolies may or may not decide to refer it to a Morrison Government minister who, in his or her turn, will in all likelihood take up to 90 days to boot it into political oblivion - in a show of support for News Ltd/NewsCorp and the Murdoch family who have been political donors to the Liberal Party since at least 1998.

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