COMMUNITY Newspapers around the nation are already under threat, and yet another blow comes after the Government announces new rules around publishing of community notices.
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Already, many of the ‘big media players’, Australian Community Media and News Corp have announced they would suspend printing of a large number of community titles, in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Councils under the new rules, are no longer required to publish relevant notices in community newspapers, instead they are allowed to simply display them on council websites.
This would see many in community members left in the dark as to what is happening in their communities and also allow for a possible less transparent process.
Port Stephens Council have been quick to announce they will no longer publish the regions obligatory notices in Print – a decision that came only days after the government announcement.
MidCoast Council are still proceeding with newspaper announcements (of notices) at the present time.
The Shadow Minister for Local Government, Greg Warren, said, “In an unprecedented time like this, the Berejiklian Government should be doing everything it can to encourage the distribution of information as well as the creation and retention of jobs,” Mr Warren said.
“There are dozens of employees at newspapers in the Minister’s South Coast electorate who must be seething at the decision by their local member that may ultimately destroy their livelihoods.
“Community newspapers highlight the best and worst of their local area and do an admirable job holding politicians to account,“ he said.
Kate Washington, Member for Port Stephens has labeled the new ruling as a ‘betrayal of trust’ and allows Council to ‘hide public notices on different pages of their website.’
“Port Stephens Council has rushed at the opportunity to take a backward step,” she reportedly said.
“Council should take every opportunity to keep our community informed,” she said.