GOOGLE has made a bold threat to make its search unavailable in Australia if the government implements its new media code.
Google and Facebook are fronting a Senate inquiry this morning over the federal government’s proposed laws which would force the tech giants to pay for Australian news content.
Google’s Australian managing director, Mel Silva, said the proposal would make Google Search unviable in Australia.
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“The principle of unrestricted linking between websites is fundamental to search and coupled with the unmanageable financial and operational risk,” she said.
“If this version of the code were to become law, it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia.
“Now that would be a bad outcome for us, but also for the Australian people media diversity, and the small businesses who use our products every day.
“Now withdrawing our services from Australia is the last thing that I or Google want to have happen, especially when there is another way forward.”
She said Google could be allowed to reach commercial agreements for publishers.
Independent senator Rex Patrick was critical of Google’s “threat”, comparing the company to China.
“I’d just like to take you back to the Prime Minister announcing that Australia would like to see an inquiry into the origins of COVID-19 and the Chinese response to that was to threaten our market, to threaten our trade,” Senator Patrick told the inquiry.
“We’ve got a similar situation here where the Australian government leading on a proposal in relation to the Wild West Web and trying to wrap some regulation around it.
“Our government steps out first and the very large organisation that is Google threatens to leave our market.
“Do you think that’s the proper conduct for a large international corporation?”
Ms Silva was quick to defend the company’s stance and admitted it would only be a “worst case scenario”.
“We, like any rational business, need to asses the impact of any legislative change on our business, our product and our operations,” Ms Silva replied.
“It is an untenable risk for our Australian operations.
“It is the only rational choice, if this law was to pass, for us.”
The Senate inquiry continues.