Liberals vote against the value of local news

The Marshall Liberal Government has abolished a requirement for public notices to be printed in local newspapers – undermining the value of country newspapers and regional communities.

Publishing local councils’ public notices has been a long-standing requirement in the Local Government Act 1999 – now it will merely be an option.

In the Legislative Council on Monday, a requirement for councils to publish public notices in a newspaper that circulates only in their community was voted down by the Government, the Greens and John Darley.

Labor pushed to insert the requirement back into the legislation, but the move was voted down by one vote – 10 for and 11 against.

During the Parliamentary debate to include the amendment, Shadow Minister for Local Government Emily Bourke, who was born in the Yorke Peninsula, said the decision was a disappointing outcome for regional communities, and their beloved and trusted country papers.

“Keeping this requirement would have proved vital in ensuring when readers are checking the local footy and netball scores, they can also check the public notices – published by councils that impact their lives, like development and planning issues,” she said.

“Few people will check their local council’s website, or the Government’s Gazette in search of public notices that could impact their lives, but they do check their local newspaper. 

“This decision disrespects the core role of local newspapers, which is to share information with the very people the Councils decisions could impact – local ratepayers.

“I might be the Shadow Minister for the City of Adelaide, but I am a country girl at heart,” she said.

“It is extraordinary that those opposite (Government) are not supporting regional newspapers.

Labor’s amendment called for a minimum standard to be adhered to by local councils – that public notices, like community consultations, meetings, development and planning issues, be published in a paper circulating only within the area of the local council.  

The Marshall Liberal Government’s push to publish important public notices, on a website could further increase the digital divide and will hit hard in our regional communities where many do not have access to reliable internet.

Labor fought to protect regional and remote newspapers – and the jobs of their dedicated journalists – by insisting local information is still published in local papers.

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