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Communications Policy

Communication among people is a defining characteristic of being human and access to effective communication should be a right for all.

The Progressive Labour Party (PLP) notes that:

  • Communications encompasses the potential to utilize the various forms of telecommunications to converse with, common interest groups, friends and family; to find out information; for entertainment and cultural interest. It is essential to the functioning, and achievement of, democratic societies. Yet, in Australia at present, great inequalities exist in access to this range of communications.
  • We recognise that there is presently, a mixed public and private system of communications in Australia but believe that it is essential that moves are made to increase public ownership and democratic control of communications in Australia.
  • Communications means being able to creatively use it as a means to express cultural, social and political values. So, to overcome the dichotomy between a mass of passive consumers and an elite of corporations using media to transmit their narrow values, there should be free, public access to the means of cultural production.
  • In many parts of the world many people cannot afford to have even basic means of communications while others enjoy multiple means. In Australia there are a significant number of people in this situation as well.
  • Global trends in new communications have not adequately addressed the issue of inequality. Many of the historic changes in communications have resulted in the weakening of workers conditions and employment and has redistributed wealth to the owners and rich shareholders of communications enterprises.
  • Capitalism increasingly relies on communications systems for economic restructuring on a global scale and the rapid undemocratic development of computer and telecommunication networks, dominated by private corporations, has mainly benefited those corporations and the wealthy few percent of the population that have the ability to impose ideological and cultural control via their ownership.
  • There has been a rush of the world's wealthiest people to control cultural resources and technology (in the form of television programming, music and film), and the means of their distribution (such as, software, internet and pay television networks).

Principles

  1. The Progressive Labour Party believes all Australians should have affordable, adequate, equitable and timely access to a diverse range of reliable communication technologies.
  2. We believe that all Australians should have access to a diverse range of quality information and cultural material in traditional as well as emerging technologies. For this to occur, there must be a diverse range of communications media available throughout Australia, regardless of wealth, to all communities, and appropriate to their needs.
  3. In privately-owned communications in Australia, the concentration of print and broadcasting ownership must be addressed to create greater diversity of proprietors and media outlets, but also greater democracy in the ownership and control. In this regard:

    a) there should be greater diversity of affordable, low-cost broadcasting and print media available to all, regardless of where they live.

    b) there should be restrictions on cross ownership in private media.

    c) all media organisations should be obliged to abide by a Media Charter to safeguard independent journalism, accurate information, freedom of speech and privacy.

    d) foreign ownership of media should be limited.

  4. The PLP recognises that publicly owned, controlled and funded communications, are critical to a diverse, creative and egalitarian Australia. We support a framework that includes an expansion of publicly owned television, radio and print media. For example, via community ownership or co-operatives.
  5. The PLP believes that our existing public institutions such as the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC), the Special Broadcasting Commission (SBS) are vital sources of Australian information distribution, cultural identity and entertainment. They must be kept under democratic public ownership, and their independence respected and strengthened. The level of their funding must be adequate and reliable.
  6. We will work towards the establishment of a publicly owned national newspaper, with an editorial board having democratic representation.
  7. The PLP supports the establishment of a publicly owned telecommunications provider.
  8. Australia Post should remain publicly owned and the Australia Post management should be broadened to include community and union representation.
  9. The PLP supports the establishment of a government funded alternative social media platform.
  10. The PLP believes there needs to be stronger measures taken in all media to promote diverse Australian content in the face of the global nature of dominant cultural forces and the danger of distinctive Australian voices being swamped.
  11. That the PLP opposes censorship in principle except where evidence is provided of adverse social consequences.
  12. The privacy protection applying to public sector communications organisations under the Privacy legislation should be strengthened and extended to all government business enterprises and private sector organisations.
  13. Freedom of information legislation should also be strengthened and retained for public sector organisations and extended to private sector communications service providers.