Legislation passed Parliament today making it mandatory for anyone – not just politicians – to wear a safety helmet during a media conference. It comes over two decades after helmets were made compulsory for cyclists in Australia, dramatically decreasing road fatalities.
Politicians have been wearing safety helmets at doorstop interviews and media conferences for years. But to date, the practice has been rare amongst other members of the public. That’s all about to change from July 1 next year, with a $79 fine applicable to those caught talking to the media without a helmet.
In a rare sign of unity, both Labor and the Coalition backed the legislation. Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the new law makes sense. “Look, the proof’s in the pudding. I’ve been wearing safety helmets at interviews for my whole career and I’ve never sustained a head injury”. Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the initiative would cut media conference fatalities to “practically zero”. Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce was more colourful in his support of the change “There’s a lot of shit flying around these days”.
But Sydney PR expert Holly Carp who offers media training for senior executives wasn’t so sure. “I’m not so sure about this. I always tell my clients to use plenty of buzz words and to repeat key phrases, but I’m not sure safety helmets are the way forward. It’s more about using buzz words and repeating key phrases”.
A new government agency will be set up to ensure celebrities visiting Australia are given a helmet upon arrival into the country. “If they’ve got a busy media schedule or they’re on a promotional tour, it might make sense for them to just wear a helmet the whole time” a government spokesperson said.