MICHELLE ROWLAND MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS
MEMBER FOR GREENWAY
LAUNCH OF YOUTUBE ECONOMIC IMPACT REPORT
WEDNESDAY, 16 JUNE 2021
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Good evening everyone. To the Minister, my parliamentary colleagues and staff, Google, YouTube, thank you for hosting this. But in particular, to the creatives who are here: it is an absolute delight to be here.
In my past life there were a couple of things that I did. One of them was as a commercial lawyer advising on broadcasting law and regulation. I can tell you the difference and the evolution as between traditional broadcasting and YouTube can probably be summed up thus: broadcasting is about serving up content to audiences, but a platform like YouTube is about bringing audiences to that content. But more than that, it’s not a one-off upload. It’s actually about fostering communities of interest, so in that way it is a much more complementary but also a richer source of creativity in that sense.
The other was some years ago, I served as Chair of Screen NSW and back at that time before YouTube existed there were just two screens: there was your television screen or your cinema screen. And what YouTube has been able to do are things that an agency like Screen NSW at the time could never have thought possible, again fostering those communities of interest. But also becoming a source of immense revenue and jobs growth as well. I don’t need to tell you all here that YouTube is not just a video streaming service, it’s a phenomenon. And again, I’m sure all of you have your personal experiences: my two young daughters love YouTube. They’re allowed to watch slime making, ASMR (I did not know what ASMR was and now I do), squishy collections and fidgets.
But of course, as Lucinda said, YouTube is a source of much information, education and entertainment for Australians of all ages and also a source of income and revenue generation. It’s more than a place for funny cat videos. It’s a place of e-commerce, and for many small businesses it’s a way to grow their brand, to connect with consumers across the globe in a way that’s fresh and innovative and exciting. It’s like the old school sales promoter who is spruiking with the microphone outside the clothing store, except now they are probably doing it with the world’s largest microphone.
I encourage you all to have a look at the Oxford Economics Study which shows that last year alone YouTube contributed $608 million to the Australian economy. And that’s money going into the pockets of not just content creators, but the supply chain services that make that content creation possible, like the sound and film equipment, the costume design and the hospitality. And YouTube has really demonstrated itself as an enabler as a platform for business growth. Like all of you here, I am very passionate about growing Australia’s creative economy and I want to commend YouTube for being part of exciting partnerships, including with the Australian Film Television and Radio School to foster our young talent and to build that capacity.
I’ll leave it at that other than to note the report really has three neat strands: the economic, the cultural and the societal. In terms of that revenue generation component, when I was growing up you were taught there were only a finite number of ways that you could earn an income: like wages, rent or interest. But now, thanks to platforms like YouTube, we really have this creative dividend that’s very exciting and the direct and indirect ways that contribute to the economy and to jobs: nearly 16,000 full time jobs created as a consequence.
But I do encourage you to look in particular - and I’m so glad we have Chloe here this evening - a couple of the really positive stories that come out of YouTube as an amplifier for diverse Australian voices, a platform for undiscovered talent, and if you haven’t had the joy of Baker Boy I encourage you to get that joy. But also an immensely valuable resource during the pandemic. The internet and misinformation and disinformation has given online a very bad name over the past 18 months. But when you look at the fact that 73 per cent of users commented that YouTube was helpful since the start of the pandemic, not just in terms of providing information, but also have a look at the story of Chloe Ting who, as people started working from home, managed to develop her own home workout business and really enabled her to be creative in a way I bet she didn’t even think possible. So it’s much more important for you to hear from those creatives but thank you again for the opportunity and congratulations and I’m sure we all look forward to consuming, enjoying and creating on YouTube well into the future.