Television Interview, Sky News

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The Hon Matt Thistlethwaite MP

Assistant Minister for Defence

Assistant Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

Assistant Minister for the Republic

Media contact

Ben Leeson on 0404 648 275

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1 March 2024





SUBJECTS: Meta’s news content announcement; Dunkley By-Election; Cost of Living; Bigger Tax Cuts for More Australians.

KIERAN GILBERT, HOST: Joining us now is the Assistant Minister for Defence, Matt Thistlethwaite. I know we're going to hear from your colleagues Michelle Rowland and Stephen Jones a bit later this afternoon for the government's formal response, but this is super disappointing, isn't it, Matt? A company that's generating record profits and revenue and not willing to pay for the content it uses to monetise a lot of what it does.

MATT THISTLETHWAITE, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR DEFENCE: G’day Kieran, good to talk to you again mate. Yeah, this is a disappointing decision. The bargaining code was put together in good faith. It had bipartisan support when it went through the Parliament. And it's there to ensure that news outlets get fair recompense for the work that they put into media stories and developing news that informs Australians. And people like yourself and other journalists at Sky and other news outlets work very hard to ensure that Australians get fair news and get access to that. It was only fair those social media platforms that were using that content produced by news outlets such as yours pay a fair price for that. And it was something that was negotiated in good faith and it's disappointing that Meta have chosen to pull out of that.

GILBERT: The statement from Stephen Jones and Michelle Rowland said that “Meta's decision to no longer pay for news content is a dereliction of its commitment to the sustainability of Australian news media”. And then this line, which I certainly found encouraging from a journalist and media perspective, “the Australian government is committed to the news media bargaining code and is seeking advice from Treasury and the ACCC on next steps.”

ASSISTANT MINISTER: Yeah, that's right, Kieran. The news media bargaining code is a fair code of practice through which we encourage social media platforms and news outlets to negotiate fair deals for the use of content. And so many Australians nowadays get their news through social media platforms. And it was unfair for those platforms to piggyback off the hard work of Australian journalists. And that's why the code is in place. And that's why we expect those social media platforms, using the hard work of journalists for their benefit on their platforms, should pay for that. And we'll get the advice of Treasury about next steps. But we intend to make sure that social media platforms continue to pay a fair price for the hard work of Australian journalists.

GILBERT: That's encouraging, and I look forward to hearing from your colleagues, Michelle Rowland and Stephen Jones. But as I say, good to hear that the government is committed to that code and level the playing field a bit. Now, Matt Thistlethwaite, the Dunkley by election tomorrow, it's all about cost of living. You know that as well as anyone in Kingsford Smith. People are hurting as they are in Dunkley. Inflation might be moderating, the tax cuts might be coming in July, but still, there's a lot of pain out there.

ASSISTANT MINISTER: Yeah, you're right, Kieran. We know that Australians are struggling with the cost of living. I'm hopeful tomorrow that Australians will see two things. Firstly, that Jodie Belyea is a fantastic candidate and will be a really good representative of the people of Dunkley and do a fantastic job in carrying on that great legacy that Peta Murphy left. And Jodie was chosen by Peta as someone that she believed would be a great representative. And secondly, that Australians will see that the main focus of the government has been providing that cost of living support. We all know about our tax cuts that went through the Parliament this week beginning on the 1 July, ensuring that Australians keep more of what they earn. But that comes on the back of the other policies. The energy rebates, the cheaper childcare, the cheaper medicines policy, increases to rent assistance and JobKeeper and other social security payments. All of these efforts the government's put into assisting people to get through this difficult period. I'm hopeful that the voters of Dunkley will see that tomorrow.

GILBERT: Matt Thistlethwaite, talk to you soon. Appreciate your time.


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