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Morrison Gov Delays Digital Platforms Inquiry Response

Scott Morrison and his coalition government are reportedly preparing to delay a response to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission digital platforms inquiry until next year, as his cabinet has yet to discuss its still incomplete response in full.

As revealed by the Australian, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced he would miss his Christmas deadline to respond to the Inquiry.

The Inquiry released in July laid out 23 recommendations from the National Watchdog regarding the dominance of the leading digital platforms and their impact across Australia’s economy, media and society.

Calling for significant and holistic reform, the ACCC identified a number of adverse effects associated with the dominance of Google and Facebook.

Upon the release of the Inquiry, ACCC Chair Rod Sims claimed ‘action on consumer law and privacy issues, as well as on competition law and policy’ would be ‘vital in dealing’ with market power and the accumulation of consumer data with digital platforms.

Shadow Minister Michelle Rowland, along with three other Labor MPs have come in opposition to Morrison’s dithering response to the digital platforms inquiry.

‘After six years in Government and six months after receiving the ACCC’s 23 recommendations, the Liberals still don’t know what to do when it comes to a range of consumer protection, competition, data privacy and media policy issues in the digital environment’.

Calling out the government for talking a big game despite being ‘long overdue in delivering reforms, Labor has added the Digital Platforms Inquiry to Scott Morrison’s ‘growing list of broken promises’.

With only one more parliamentary sitting week left in this year, and Morrison’s cabinet yet to discuss their response to the Inquiry, the original Christmas deadline has been pushed back to next year.

The co-ordinated final response is also yet to be completed, and according to the Australian, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher has diverted questioning to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

‘The government released the ACCC’s Digital Platforms report for consultation on 1 August 2019’ Minister Frydenberg told The Australian, stating that since the consultation process ended in late October, ‘the government has been working on finalising its response’.

As of today, 2 December, no such response has been seen completed.

Opposition technology spokeswoman Clare O’Neil voiced her concerns with the delay stating that the leading cause of frustration for the opposition is that ‘the government is unable to tackle some of the biggest issues facing Australian families at the moment’.

‘The government just can’t tackle any of these things. They said they would respond to the Inquiry by the end of the year. We are really worried about this. Technology is a really important issue for Australian families.’

Even former Prime Minister John Howard agrees with the ACCC’s code of conduct recommendations as a viable means for returning revenue to traditional media companies.

‘We may well need a code of conduct that stops people from just plagiarising other news, so I’m happy to endorse that approach’.

Unfortunately for Morrison, even Howard doesn’t expect this approach to be implemented soon, saying, ‘I’m not at all confident that we’ll get there any time soon’.

Considering the recent failure of the Ensuring Integrity Bill, it’s a long road ahead for the Morrisson government if they want to organise their response.

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