Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has hit out at Google, saying the tech giant was doing itself a “big disservice” by threatening to remove the Australia public’s access to Google Search.
His comments come after Google and Facebook fronted a senate inquiry on Friday into the federal government’s proposed media reforms, which would see the digital giants pay news outlets for content on their platforms.
In response, Google threatened to remove its search function if the legislation passed, which was immediately met with criticism.
On Sunday, Mr Frydenberg said the threat did not serve Google well.
“It seems the digital giants did themselves a big disservice last week when they very openly and publicly threatened the Australian public with pulling out of Australia … if legislation proceeds as it currently stands,” he said.
“Our position is very clear … My view is that it is inevitable that the digital giants will be paying for original content.”
Mr Frydenberg said the federal government and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission would deliver on a code that would see Google and Facebook pay for Australian news.
“They keep changing the goalposts, and if the clicks for media content is such a small proportion of their overall clicks on the search, ultimately the independent arbiters will find that it should reflect that payment for content, reflecting the benefit to Google and Facebook from having that media content on the site,” he said.
“We are now in a position to implement a world-leading code, one that is fair, taking into account mutual value exchange, the benefit digital giants as well as the benefit to traditional media businesses and we think it is a fair outcome. We await the committee report.”
Google has claimed the legislation would make its Google Search unviable, despite paying just $59m in corporate tax last year while reporting revenues over $4b.