Katharine Murphy June 06, 2012
Terrified: Bob Brown. Photo: Andrew Meares
OUTGOING Greens leader Bob Brown is ''terrified'' that the Gillard government will do nothing to toughen media regulation.
With the government set to consider its response to the Finkelstein inquiry in coming weeks, Senator Brown said the Greens had come to expect the major parties would duck controversy when it came to challenging media proprietors.
''I'm terrified that the government's going to do nothing and I know that the opposition opposes any moves towards better regulation in the public interest of media faults,'' he told the National Press Club in a farewell address yesterday.
He argued the profession and the public would benefit if there was an arm's-length regulator with powers to enforce the media's own professional standards and ethics.
''I hope there will be action there … because it's out of kilter. I think the public would be happy if it were brought back more into that balance, make sure everybody gets a fair go, commentary is balanced [and] news reporting goes to the other side each time,'' he said.
The Finkelstein print media inquiry in March recommended the creation of a news media council with legally enforceable powers to police journalistic standards.
Australian newspaper publishers are implacably opposed to that change, viewing it as an infringement of freedom of expression.
The government has said nothing definitive about its attitude to the Finkelstein recommendations but will consider the policy response over the next few weeks.
Senator Brown used his address to renew his criticism of News Ltd's coverage. He said right-wing commentary completely dominated the Australian scene, with ''diatribes'' dictated by ownership - there was no left-of-centre publication like The Guardian in Britain. ''At the moment we live in a country where right-wing commentary totally overruns progressive or left-wing commentary, let alone middle-of-the-road commentary.''
Senator Brown praised Prime Minister Julia Gillard's ''integrity'' and her resilience, and predicted she would prevail despite her current challenges.