Posted on 19. Sep, 2014 in Speeches

The recent decision of federal Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull to kill the free-to-air Channel 31 community TV station and force it into online operation is tantamount to plunging a stake into the heart of multicultural Australia. For the members of many ethnic community groups, Channel 31 is the lifeline connecting them to their cultural roots and their sense of being, identity, pride and joy.

To cruelly put an end to their aspiration and vision is most patronising, condescending and insulting — typical of the born-to-rule characteristics of this conservative Tory government. It is tragic that this follows the miserable and failed attempt by the federal Attorney-General, George Brandis, to promote the right to be racist and a bigot by pushing to scrap section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.

The minister’s plan to sell Channel 31 to commercial interests defies the logic and rationale of community TV stations, which is not about critical mass audiences justifying their existence; it is about public access and equity, participation, engagement, sharing and diversity. Coercing Channel 31 into online operation overlooks the fact that the elderly and illiterate sections of the migrant community are not IT savvy and cannot afford the associated costs.

This reprehensible act of bullying by this minister has antagonised and provoked the migrant community around the country. The community will again take up the fight against this abuse and arrogance of power.

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