Frydenberg says digital giants 'changing the goalposts'

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 25 January 2021

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says Google did itself a "disservice" when it publicly threatened to pull out of Australia effectively with search.

“It seems the digital giants keep changing goalposts,” he told media in Melbourne.

“They were originally against what we were putting forward on algorithms and against what we were putting forward on a final arbitration model. Now, it seems they are against paying for any clicks on a search."

Prime minister Scott Morrison, responding to Google's threat to withdraw Search from Australia, said: "We don't respond to threats."

The giant digital platform said it could pull its search function from Australia if the news media bargaining code is passed in parlaiment in its current form.

Speaking at a senate hearing Friday, local Google managing director Mel Silva again argued the code was unworkable and would “break” Google Search and its business in Australia.

Silva says the requirement in the code to force Google to pay news publishers for “snippets” in Search is not compatible with how search engines work, and could force it to pull Google Search from the local market.

“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,” Silva says.

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