Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed called for an amendment
to a clause in the Regulatory Legislation Amendment (Reform) Bill 2021 that would be
harmful to regional newspapers and reduce the availability of information to the public.
The bill proposed that all state and local government public notices would no longer
be required to be published in the print media.
During a sitting of parliament on Thursday, Ms Sheed spoke about how the clause in the
bill would result in significant damage to the viability of regional newspapers and
moved an amendment to the bill.
While the amendment did not pass in the Legislative Assembly, Ms Sheed
commended the Liberals, Nationals and other independents for supporting her
“I will not give up the fight to have this clause removed from the bill and will be
speaking to upper house members to submit a similar amendment, so the bill does
not pass in its current form,” Ms Sheed said.
During the debate, Ms Sheed highlighted the importance of the community knowing
about government decisions and used Greater Shepparton City Council’s decision to
look at selling the airspace above a city carpark for social housing as an example of
something of interest to a large portion of the community.
“Regional newspapers have suffered greatly in the past decade due to the increasing
presence of online media and the decline in print newspapers across our regional areas,”
Ms Sheed said.
“The impacts of a few paragraphs in this bill can be devastating, and I am here to say
that on behalf of regional communities something absolutely must be done about it.
“Where newspapers stop reporting on what happens at their local council meetings,
people become disengaged.
“Government notices that go into the newspapers, whether they be planning, tenders, or other will go onto one single internet site, and I think it is a really big mistake to think that everybody will have access to that site.
“It is often the older, retired people who are really watching for those notices. “They are on the ball, they are active community members, and they want to know what is going on, and if they cannot access it in the local newspaper, then how will they?”
Elaine Cooney 0447 820 466│firstname.lastname@example.org