Firebrand crossbench senator Jacqui Lambie has launched a blistering attack on the Turnbull government and One Nation over media reform, labelling them a “disgusting bunch of individuals” for “going after” the ABC and SBS.
In a late-night Senate speech, Senator Lambie hit out at the government’s decision to grant One Nation’s request to impose additional transparency measures on the ABC and SBS.
“You are a disgusting bunch of individuals at times,” she said.
“You have no moral values and to go after the public broadcaster is an absolute disgrace,” she said.
Senator Lambie, who opposes the government’s media reform package, said the ABC and SBS were being “punished” because they were “one step ahead when it comes to iView and their social media platforms”.
“They’re going to punish them for that while the rest of them should have seen this coming 10 years ago, should have got up with the bloody program of the 21st century, and they’ve got their hand out saying ‘help us, government,'” she said.
“This is crap. This is the worst lot of crap I have seen.”
Senator Lambie’s fiery speech lit up social media on Thursday as the government’s media reform bills were poised to pass the Senate.
— Luke Henriques-Gomes (@lukehgomes) September 13, 2017
The government struck agreements with One Nation and the Nick Xenophon Team in order to win the crossbench votes needed to pass the legislation.
Senator Xenophon won a $60 million Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund, which he says will help rural newspapers and independent news outlets hire more staff and upgrade equipment.
“This is the best package to ensure that we can actually get more journalists being employed not fewer,” he said.
One Nation’s request for an overhaul of the ABC will include a competitive neutrality inquiry, which critics say threatens the broadcaster’s free news service and iView website.
Senator Xenophon said he would not support the ABC legislation, which will be pursued separately.
The media bill also controversially repeals the two out of three rule that forbids proprietors owning a newspaper, television network and radio station in the same license area.
Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said he believed the overhaul would boost the long-term viability of Australian media.
“The media laws were crafted for an era which today is barely recognisable,” he said.
“This is not 1988 – the internet does exist.”
Labor’s communication spokeswoman Michelle Rowland said: “The Turnbull Government, One Nation and Nick Xenophon have signed up to a deal that they’re all too embarrassed to support publicly, and that must be prosecuted in separate stages, lest the tower of deals topple over.”
Greens communications spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said the deal threatened the future of the ABC’s iView and SBS On Demand, saying it would pave the way for a pay wall on both services.
She also dismissed the fund extracted by Senator Xenophon as a “furphy”.
“It doesn’t deliver jobs to journalists. It cuts out a swag Australian-based media outfits,” she said.
The fund – which will be administered by the communications regulator ACMA – will not be available to large publishers such as News Corp and Fairfax nor overseas players such as The Guardian and Buzzfeed, or any publisher affiliated with a union, superannuation fund or lobby group.