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Media Release

Labor Turns Its Back on Regional and Rural Australia

AH 2/19

The Hon. Alex Hawke MP
Special Minister of State

27 February 2019

Special Minister of State Alex Hawke today confirmed that he had changed regulations regarding the way communications allowances can be spent by parliamentarians. Mr Hawke said that the changes will ensure all communities across Australia get the same opportunity to receive information from their Federal Member, closing an anomaly in the old system.

“Currently, parliamentarians can spend money communicating with constituents on social media, sending money offshore to companies like Facebook in Ireland, but they can’t spend it on television and radio in Australia,” Mr Hawke said.

Mr Hawke said that by opposing common sense changes which ensure Australian media is on a level playing field, Labor was hurting regional and rural Australia.

“In confirming they will ‘fight’ these changes, Labor have demonstrated yet again that they have the wrong priorities.”

“Labor are opposing the rights of disadvantaged communities to receive the same level of communication from their Members of Parliament that metropolitan communities receive.”

“By contrast, the Morrison Government has acted in a non-partisan way to modernise the ways that parliamentarians can use their communications allowances.
Mr Hawke questioned Labor’s priorities, criticising the hypocrisy of today’s declaration when compared with their other recent public statements.

“Labor is a party that lectures us about multinationals, but are opposing changes that take expenditure away from social media giants like Facebook and put it into local Aussie communities.”

“Labor is a party that lectures us about climate change action, but are opposing changes that will reduce the amount of printing done by parliamentarians.”

“By fighting overdue modernization of the system Labor have showed that they don’t understand rural and regional Australia and that they don’t care about local economies.”

Mr Hawke said that the changes were about ensuring existing allowances don’t unfairly advantage certain types of media and could be spent by MPs locally, instead of offshore.

“The Government confirms there is no change to the amount of communications allowances for individual Members and Senators and as per the current system the ultimate responsibility for how these are spent is a judgement for the individual Member and Senator.”

“The only exception to this is a special one-off bipartisan, approval for Members of Parliament in disaster zones to access more communications allowance, solely for the purpose of communicating Federal Government assistance in their electorates during some of the worst disasters on record.”

“In not addressing a reason or motivation for opposing these changes, Labor have shown their ignorance on the issues facing regional and rural electorates across Australia.”

[ENDS]

Media Contact(s): 

Minister Hawke’s office;  Dean Shachar 0438 675 873