MEMBER for Calare Andrew Gee has expressed support for regional journalism, but stopped short of committing to financial assistance for an industry in peril.
On Wednesday, Australian Community Media (ACM), the publisher of this newspaper, launched a campaign to secure emergency support from the Australian Government to combat the rising costs regional newspapers are facing.
A paper price increase of more than 80 per cent is due to come into effect from July 1.
If financial assistance is not forthcoming, it will force the closure of local newspapers and lead to job losses.
In its extensive submission to the recent parliamentary inquiry into regional newspapers, ACM said it did not want to "become reliant on continuing government handouts" and instead recommended guaranteed levels of annual government advertising in regional newspapers and tax rebates for regional businesses that advertise in their local paper.
The Western Advocate approached Mr Gee to ask if he would support emergency financial assistance to protect local newspapers and journalism jobs in regional Australia.
In response, he said that having local journalists was "critical" and he is concerned about the challenges the industry is facing.
"I am a huge supporter of our regional media outlets, including our local newspapers. I want to see regional media expanding not contracting," Mr Gee said.
"It is critical that we continue to have local journalists covering the local issues that matter to our communities, and I want to see all our local papers continue to operate.
"I am very concerned by reports that newsprint prices for regional publishers may increase significantly.
"The Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher has met with industry representatives and is continuing to engage with them and work on this issue."
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