THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP
MEMBER FOR ISAACS
MICHELLE ROWLAND MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS
MEMBER FOR GREENWAY
AFFIRMING THE ESSENTIAL ROLE OF MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS SERVICES
As COVID-19 restrictions tighten around Australia, it is incumbent upon Federal, State and Territory Ministers to ensure media and communications services continue to be recognised as an essential service.
Media and communications services are essential for keeping Australians connected and informed, yet key sectors remain deeply uncertain as to whether they will be permitted to continue to carry out this critical role during the Coronavirus crisis.
As extraordinary powers are invoked, government advice is updated daily and the health of the Australian public is at stake, the public's right to know has never been more important. It is essential the Australian people can continue to access trusted sources of news and information.
Media outlets already face unprecedented challenges. Even before this crisis began, media freedom in Australia was under threat.
As this unprecedented crisis escalates, it is imperative that Federal, State and Territory Ministers affirm the essential role of media and communications services and key personnel across the print media, radio and TV broadcasters including national, community, commercial and subscription services ISPs, telcos and postal services.
Industry is putting practical measures and mechanisms in place, such as allowing staff to work remotely, and providing employer letters or other documentation, to help key personnel carry on their work unhindered but there is no assurance this will satisfy authorities.
There is a great deal of uncertainty across the media and communications industry and every effort should be made to clarify the state of play for essential services where possible.
THURSDAY, 2 APRIL 2020