A motion that calls for the South Australian government and its departments to commit to an annual advertising spend in regional newspapers has passed the Lower House, without amendment.
Putting forward the motion was Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell, who called for the South Australian Lower House to “recognise the importance of independent media platforms as both the voice for regional communities and a trusted information source”. Mr Bell also moved the SA government provide “financial assistance to help support both new and established platforms to continue to serve their communities” and that it “recognises that print is a vital information source for regional people”.
The final point of the Member for Mount Gambier’s motion calls for the state government to commit to “an annual spend for communication in regional communities”. The motion came after an amendment to the state’s Statutes Amendment and Repeal (Simplify) Bill 2019 added the option of publishing government agency notices online, reducing the commitment to advertising in regional print publications.
“The importance of print media to regional areas cannot be underestimated,” Mr Bell told Parliament, mentioning the region’s newspapers The SE Voice, Lifestyle1 and The Border Watch. “For regional communities, they are a source of information, a journal of record, a regular publication where you find accurate and balanced news in the public interest.
“For many people, it is the only place where you find out government news and how it will affect you and your family. “In regional South Australia, print continues to be a vital source of information. “The last year has been a perfect example of why traditional media is incredibly important to provide accurate and balanced reporting on issues in the public interest. “Misinformation is rife on social media platforms, which do not fact-check and allow public commentary.
“Unbelievably, a politician’s Facebook page is not where most of Mount Gambier finds out government news that affects them. “This government proudly displays the motto Regions Matter. “The communication budget is already there, and I am asking this state government to commit to an advertising spend in regional areas so that our regional papers can plan, with some degree of certainty, a future budget that includes their full-time equivalents, and it would give some certainty and some support to a vital industry in our regions.”