Federal Minister and Member for Hume Angus Taylor has joined local and state politicians in expressing support for the community news coverage of the Goulburn Post.
Mr Taylor, Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, acknowledged as 'regrettable' the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which led publisher ACM to last month suspend the printing of the Goulburn Post and a number of other non-daily newspapers until June 29.
"It is unfortunate that current circumstances have made this suspension necessary," Mr Taylor writes in a May 20 letter addressed to ACM executive chairman Antony Catalano and released publicly by the Liberal MP.
In expressing his "support for the Goulburn Post and the other local newspapers in this region", Mr Taylor noted that, "Local community newspapers provide a vital service to regional communities".
"They provide detailed information on local news events, council notices and activities, local births deaths and marriages, and classified advertisements," he said.
"They also provide a means of communication and connection for many social and interest groups, sporting groups and school activities."
Mr Taylor said the current suspension of the print version of the Goulburn Post had "an obvious impact on local communities, in particular the older members who are not comfortable with an online version".
ACM executive editor James Joyce welcomed expressions of support for the Goulburn Post by Mr Taylor and others including Goulburn Mulwaree Council and key community groups in the city.
"Our acting editor of the Post has continued to report local news for Goulburn online and the support of our highly engaged digital subscribers is helping to make this coverage possible," he said
"We're grateful to our subscribers, including many new customers, and the individual readers and community-minded groups who have contacted us directly to tell us what the Post means to them and to Goulburn."
At Goulburn Mulwaree council's May 5 meeting, councillors endorsed unanimously mayor Cr Bob Kirk's motion that he make a public statement to "support the Goulburn Post and the role the newspaper plays in this community" and collaborate with local federal and state members to write letters to ACM "supporting the return to operations and production of the paper copy once COVID-19 pandemic restrictions are lifted."
"There is no doubt that the Goulburn Post is an important part of the culture and historic value of this community and thus its continuation, in this council's opinion, is vital," Cr Kirk wrote in his letter to ACM.
The May 5 vote came despite councillors voting unanimously , at their previous meeting on April 21 to withdraw the council's regular advertising of council business and community information from the Goulburn Post and instead make council information available on its own website.
The vote came within days of the NSW government's decision to remove the legal and long standing requirement for council notices to be made available to ratepayers in local newspapers, a regulatory change described by digital inequality experts as 'anti democratic'.
Goulburn MP Wendy Tuckerman has issued no public statement on Goulburn council's April 21 vote but in a letter supporting its May 5 motion said local newspapers played a crucial role informing her state electorate.
"Without a local paper available in our newsagents and stores I am concerned that there will not be another vessel to share this connection across our community," the MP wrote on May 13.
"These publications provide locals with a sense of social connection, documenting births, deaths and marriages, community events, civic change and the achievements of sport, art and academia of our family, friends and neighbours."
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