FEDERAL MPs from both sides of politics have voiced support in Parliament for an upgrade to the broadcasting licence of Melbourne Jewish community radio station J-AIR.
J-AIR began as an online-only station in 2012, adding an FM radio signal in 2014. But its narrowcast radio licence allows it to broadcast only in an eight-to-10-kilometre radius from its Caulfield transmitter, covering only some of the Jewish community.
Goldstein Liberal MP Tim Wilson moved a motion last week calling on the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to upgrade the station’s FM licence. The motion was supported by Higgins Liberal MP Katie Allen, Macnamara Labor MP Josh Burns and Eden-Monaro Labor MP Mike Kelly.
Speaking to his motion, Wilson stated, “J-AIR should be given a permanent community broadcasting licence so they can continue their important work for Melbourne’s Jewish community.”
Supporting the motion, Allen said, “Despite the good work of J-AIR and its volunteers, the absence of a community broadcasting licence limits the capacity for J-AIR to support the Jewish community and provide awareness for the ongoing safety and security challenges faced by Melbourne’s Jewish community as a result of the rise of antisemitism.”
Burns told Parliament, “One of the reasons why J-AIR is so important is because it’s not just the permanent shows that people go on, some of whom I agree with, some of whom I have strong editorial differences with … but also because they cover a lot of the community events locally.”
Kelly, whose wife and son are Jewish, and who has been targeted by far-right extremists, said a strong Jewish community station is a bulwark against antisemitism.
“We have just heard in this last week comments from the director-general of ASIO about the rising threat of extreme rightwing violence in this country. It is important to get on top of that, and radio stations like J-AIR will make a tremendous contribution to that.”
Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Peter Wertheim described Parliamentary support for J-AIR as “bipartisanship at its best”.