Dear Australian Competition and Consumer Commission,

The right to petition Federal Parliament has been one of the rights of citizens since federation, and it is the only way an individual can directly place grievances before the Parliament.

As part of a public relations exercise to promote his priorities for this year Mr Sims, Chairman of the ACCC gave an exclusive interview to the The Australian Financial Review. Published under the heading ‘ACCC goes into battle against Facebook, Apple and Google’ it is reported that the Chairman of the ACCC told AFR during the interview that:

“public outrage against News Corp led by former prime minister Kevin Rudd was disproportionate to the Rupert Murdoch-controlled company's size, yet the public seemed largely apathetic or ignorant to the danger of Google and Facebook's influence over the public consumption of news.”

"People sometimes don't realise News Corp and Nine are nothing compared to Google, you wouldn't get that sense, but it just shows what a good job Google's public relations do.
"News Corp are worth less than 1 per cent of Google [around $US10 billion ($12.9 billion) versus in excess of $US1 trillion] and yet they have managed to convince people News Corp are the big, bad guy," Mr Sims said."

The reason why the ACCC decided to comment on the right of a citizen to petition is not revealed, nor is the process used by the ACCC to determine that the level of so called ‘public outrage’ was disproportionate to the Rupert Murdoch-controlled company's size.

Under FOI I seek access to:
(a) copies of policies and procedures used by the ACCC to assess and determine ‘public outrage’;
(b) documents containing the material relied on by the ACCC to determine the public outrage against News Corp was disproportionate;
(c) documents containing the material relied on by the ACCC to assert that Google have managed to convince people News Corps are the big, bad guy.

Yours faithfully,

JS

https://www.aph.gov.au/petition_list?id=...

This is the text of the Petition lodged with Parliament:

Petition EN1938 - Royal Commission to ensure a strong, diverse Australian news media
Our democracy depends on diverse sources of reliable, accurate and independent news. But media ownership is becoming more concentrated alongside new business models that encourage deliberately polarising and politically manipulated news. We are especially concerned that Australia’s print media is overwhelmingly controlled by News Corporation, founded by Fox News billionaire Rupert Murdoch, with around two-thirds of daily newspaper readership. This power is routinely used to attack opponents in business and politics by blending editorial opinion with news reporting. Australians who hold contrary views have felt intimidated into silence. These facts chill free speech and undermine public debate. Powerful monopolies are also emerging online, including Facebook and Google. We are deeply concerned by: mass-sackings of news journalists; digital platforms impacting on media diversity and viability; Nine Entertainment's takeover of the Melbourne Age and Sydney Morning Herald; News Corp’s acquisition (and then closure) of more than 200 smaller newspapers, undermining regional and local news; attempts to replace AAP Newswire with News Corp’s alternative; and relentless attacks on the ABC’s independence and funding. Professional journalists further have legitimate concerns around unjust searches, potential prosecution, whistle-blower protection, official secrecy and dispute resolution that should be comprehensively addressed. Only a Royal Commission would have the powers and independence to investigate threats to media diversity, and recommend policies to ensure optimal diversity across all platforms to help guarantee our nation’s democratic future.

Petition Request
We therefore ask the House to support the establishment of such a Royal Commission to ensure the strength and diversity of Australian news media.
Number of signatures: 501876

FOI, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

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FOI, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

1 Attachment

OFFICIAL

 

Dear JS,

 

Please find attached letter for your consideration.

 

Kind regards,

 

Sonya Petreski

FOI Officer | Corporate Law Unit, Legal Group
Australian Competition & Consumer Commission
Level 2 | 23 Marcus Clarke Street Canberra 2601 |
[1]http://www.[ACCC request email]
T: +61 2 6243 1244 | F: +61 2 6243 1210
P Please consider the environment before printing this email

 

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IMPORTANT: This email from the Australian Competition and Consumer
Commission (ACCC), and any attachments to it, may contain information that
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other privilege.  If you are not the intended recipient, you must not
review, copy, disseminate, disclose to others or take action in reliance
on, any material contained within this email.  If you have received this
email in error, please let the ACCC know by reply email to the sender
informing them of the mistake and delete all copies from your computer
system. For the purposes of the Spam Act 2003, this email is authorised by
the ACCC [2]www.accc.gov.au

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http://www.accc.gov.au/
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FOI, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

OFFICIAL

 

Dear JS,

 

I refer to your below FOI request.

 

We have consulted with the relevant line area regarding your request. Set
out below is our interpretation of the documents you are seeking – could
you please advise by Wednesday, 10 February 2021 if this is correct?

 

+------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| |Request |Documents sought |
|---+---------------------------------+----------------------------------|
|(a)|copies of policies and procedures|Copies of publicly available |
| |used by the ACCC to assess and |stakeholder submissions from the |
| |determine ‘public outrage’ |general public opposed to the |
|---+---------------------------------|Draft News Media Bargaining Code. |
|(b)|documents containing the material| |
| |relied on by the ACCC to | |
| |determine the public outrage | |
| |against News Corp was | |
| |disproportionate | |
|---+---------------------------------+----------------------------------|
|(c)|documents containing the material|Documents created or produced |
| |relied on by the ACCC to assert |between 31 July 2020 and 28 |
| |that Google have managed to |January 2021 containing material |
| |convince people News Corps are |related to the market power of |
| |the big, bad guy.’ |News Corporation in the context of|
| | |the News Media Bargaining Code as |
| | |well as publicly available |
| | |material that was considered by |
| | |the ACCC. |
+------------------------------------------------------------------------+

 

Kind regards,

 

Rebecca Fenech

FOI Manager | Corporate Law Unit | Legal & Economic Division

Australian Competition & Consumer Commission
23 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra 2601 | [1]www.accc.gov.au
T: (02) 6243 1244

 

The ACCC acknowledges the traditional custodians of Country throughout
Australia and recognises their continuing connection to the land, sea and
community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures; and to their
Elders past, present and future.

 

show quoted sections

Dear FOI,

Thank you for your letter. I am not seeking public submissions about the Draft News Media Bargaining Code.

I seek insight into the process used by the ACCC to assess and conclude that “public outrage against News Corp led by former prime minister Kevin Rudd was disproportionate to the Rupert Murdoch-controlled company's size. What level of ‘public outrage” would be acceptable to the ACCC. The information in the documents sought should reassure the public about the role the ACCC in such matters and clarify the level of ‘public outrage” that would be acceptable to the ACCC. The ACCC’s communications have profound power that can have significant consequences - in this instance a potential chilling effect on those exercising their right to petition.

Yours sincerely,

JS

FOI, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

1 Attachment

OFFICIAL

 

Dear JS,

 

Please find the attached letter for your consideration.

 

Kind regards,

 

Rebecca Fenech

FOI Manager | Corporate Law Unit | Legal & Economic Division

Australian Competition & Consumer Commission
23 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra 2601 | [1]www.accc.gov.au
T: (02) 6243 1244

 

The ACCC acknowledges the traditional custodians of Country throughout
Australia and recognises their continuing connection to the land, sea and
community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures; and to their
Elders past, present and future.

 

---
IMPORTANT: This email from the Australian Competition and Consumer
Commission (ACCC), and any attachments to it, may contain information that
is confidential and may also be the subject of legal, professional or
other privilege.  If you are not the intended recipient, you must not
review, copy, disseminate, disclose to others or take action in reliance
on, any material contained within this email.  If you have received this
email in error, please let the ACCC know by reply email to the sender
informing them of the mistake and delete all copies from your computer
system. For the purposes of the Spam Act 2003, this email is authorised by
the ACCC [2]www.accc.gov.au

References

Visible links
1. http://www.accc.gov.au/
2. http://www.accc.gov.au/

Dear Melissa,

Thank you for your decision and observations on the comments attributed to the Chair of the ACCC Mr Rod Sims in an article that appeared in the AFR. No documents fall within scope of the FOI application.

I accept your observation that the comments were not directed at the right to petition the Federal Parliament. The comments made by the Chair were directed to the public outrage that included a petition with about half a million signatures. Therefore, the comments by the Chair were directed at the half a million signatories who had exercised their right.

The Chair choose global size of the traders. The public outrage directed against News Corps is primarily related to matters within Australia. Public interest journalism and taxation are important to Democracy. The earnings declared to the ATO by the 3 operators:
Facebook Earning $581,978,850 Tax Income $ 51,394,291 Tax paid $15,418,287
Google Earnings $1,074,093,234 Tax Income $200,343,341 Tax Paid $51,413,751
NEWS AUSTRALIA HOLDINGS Earnings $2,115,403,204 Tax Paid $0.00.

Based on earnings I observe that the tax paid by News Australia Holdings seems
disproportionate to the tax paid by Google and Facebook.

As to the observation by the Chair that "Google managed to convince people News Corps are the big, bad guy ' all is forgiven. Money can’t buy happiness, but it helps.
https://newscorp.com/2021/02/17/news-cor...

Yours sincerely

JS