Senator Fiona Nash addressed the National Press Club today about regional issues, speaking passionately about what regional towns have to offer and making the case for businesses and government departments to move to regional Australia.
She spoke about the improvement of health and transport services and the benefits of a regional lifestyle, and foreshadowed a government push to consider moving some functions to regional areas.
In her speech she said that about 5% of capital city reporting about regional issues is positive, while the rest is negative. She asked the media to check its bias on regional reporting and to take a look at the facts about life in the bush so that people are not discouraged from living in regional areas. “The Productivity Commission report says great things about living in regional Australia, but if you were reading the metro media you’d never know it.”
Her approach is for governments to work together with regional communities to help improve regional lifestyles.
In her role as Regional Communications Minister she also mentioned broadband, the NBN, WiFi, satellites and talked in detail about improving bandwidth in the bush.
But not once did she mention terrestrial radio or tv broadcasting.
So we asked her about it.
Speaking to radioinfo’s Steve Ahern, Senator Nash said terrestrial broadcasting “is particularly important to rural and regional Australia… we are focussed on making sure they get the services they need.”
She said it is important for regional radio stations to be able to talk about local issues, telling radioinfo about the local radio stations in her home town of Young, 2LF and 2YYY.
Nash believes radio businesses in regional Australia need to be able to operate “efficiently and effectively” while still being able to cover local issues.
The new media laws, that take into account changing technology and may lift some of the competitive restrictions to traditional broadcasting businesses, such as cross media ownership two out of three rule and the 70% reach rule, have passed the House of Representatives and now have to pass through the Senate, according to Nash, who will shepherd them through the upper house chamber when the reach that stage.