PM says he supports ACCC over paying for news content amid escalating campaign by big tech companies

Scott Morrison has warned big tech companies against employing coercion in their arm wrestle with the Australian government over paying for the use of news content.
The Australian prime minister warned he does not respond well to threats on Monday, commenting on an escalating campaign against a proposed media industry code, including high-profile ads on Google and YouTube and a threat from Facebook to block all Australians from sharing news on its platform.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission proposed a mandatory industry code to apply to search engine and social media giants in April after negotiations stalled over issues including the medias access to data. The overriding sticking point was Google and Facebooks stonewalling on payment for content, the ACCC told the government.
Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Monday that he supported the Australian competition regulators work on the code. I have had engagement with very senior-level executives, he said. I spoke to the CEO of Google just last week, and continue to invite them to participate in that process.
I remember Amazon said to me once, Well, were not going to pay this tax, when it comes to the low-value threshold, and they threatened to pull Amazon, and they did, and they were back three months later.
So, look, I think people from these companies understand that when I say something, I mean it. And that I intend to follow through with it.
In mid-2018 while Morrison was treasurer, Amazon retaliated against changes in the collection of Australias goods and services tax on low-value imported items by directing Australians to amazon.com.au and barring them from purchasing items from its US store. It backed down in November 2018.
On Monday he encouraged the tech giants very strongly, to work constructively and cooperatively with the process that is under way.
And Im quite certain well come to a sensible outcome on this, and it wont need coercion. Wherever it comes from, its not something I respond very well to.
Last week the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, warned Australia wont be bullied no matter how big the international company is no matter how powerful they are no matter how valuable they are.
Frydenberg stopped short of calling on Australians to boycott Facebook, telling reporters in Canberra consumers will make their own choices about which services they consume.
Make no mistake, Facebook, Google provide wonderful services to Australians, indeed to people right around the world.
Despite government insistence it will see the plan through, concerns have been raised about the feasibility of the code and the limits placed on which news companies would benefit from revenue.
The former prime minister Kevin Rudd is critical of the plan because he says it does nothing for media diversity and doesnt help the public broadcasters.
While smaller publishers and regional media have labelled Facebooks threat an overreaction, some are concerned it will prevent the code achieving its aims.
Private Medias chairman, Eric Beecher, has said Facebooks decision meant the governments two-pronged bargaining code is left with just one prong, Google.
And that prong is looking shaky too, Beecher told Guardian Australia. The ACCC needs to go back to the drawing board to ensure the whole point of this exercise to facilitate funding and ownership diversity for public interest journalism is achieved in a workable way that gives certainty to both the platforms and news publishers.
Otherwise were heading towards legislation that has no participants, which would be a giant Pyrrhic victory for Australias lawmakers.