Kevin Rudd’s campaign to call a royal commission into media diversity in Australia broke records. Even still, there was a near-zero chance that it was going to happen. But now, it looks like the former prime minister will a very good consolation prize.
On Wednesday, Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young successfully moved a motion calling for a Senate inquiry into media diversity.
This came just days after Rudd’s petition closed with more than 500,000 signatures and then presented to parliament by Labor’s Andrew Leigh.
Even though the petition was tabled, it was, in effect, dead on arrival due to a lack of support for a royal commission from both the Government and Labor Party. Without that, the petition was doomed to sit and gather dust.
But Hanson-Young’s push meant that the investigation — which Rudd said would investigate the impact of the News Corp media empire — will take place.
And both Rudd and fellow former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull will make an appearance before the inquiry, the Guardian reports.
What’s the difference between a royal commission and a Senate inquiry?
While there is some overlap in purpose, royal commissions and Senate inquiries are different beasts.
Rudd’s preference, a royal commission, is the ‘big bopper’ of inquiries: it’s established by an act of Parliament but then becomes completely independent of it, it has dedicated commissioners who run the show, and tends to be grander in scale and resources.
Senate inquiries, on the other hand, are chaired by senators, run by certain senate committees, assisted by parliamentary staff and are generally a smaller affair.
But could this do the job? Short answer: yes.
Longer answer: well, depends what the job is. Both forms of inquiry have powers to compel people to answer questions and produce documents.
So, the Senate inquiry into media diversity has the power to get some answers. The question remains: is the Government willing to listen?