BARNABY Joyce wants the federal government to investigate the option of a publicly-owned new search engine that supports regional journalism, if Google goes through with its threat to turn off its search engine in Australia.
"I think that's absolutely in the realm of possibility and we should investigate it - you go, we will set up our own, China did," the Member for New England said.
Mr Joyce said the internet giant was 'bullying Australia' over the government's new media bargaining code, which would force Google and Facebook to pay Australian news outlets for content.
"Google is bullying Australia and in the same breath they are putting out of business the fourth estate, media," Mr Joyce said.
"That is essential in how a democracy such as Australia works, there will be no local papers if the advertising revenue keeps disappearing to Google, Facebook, Twitter or TikTok.
"You will never find a Google office in Tamworth, and if you have a problem with the local council, state government, or me, nobody will ask questions about it because there will be no journalists."
Google has pitched its News Showcase product to the federal government as an alternative way to pay Australian news outlets for content.
A spokesman for the tech giant said withdrawing from Australia is a "worst case scenario" if the code remains "unworkable".
"We're willing to pay publishers for value, and we don't object to a mandatory News Media Bargaining Code - we have proposed a solution that can work under the code," he said.
"We have proposed reasonable technical amendments that address our concerns without breaking Google Search and the fundamental way the web works.
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"This involves News Showcase which can operate under the code and pay publishers, it's currently doing just that for 450 publications across a dozen countries."
Despite that, the federal government is pushing forward with its proposed mandatory code that would force them to pay Australian news companies for the content that appears on their platforms, and abide by minimum standards like providing notice of any algorithm changes that would affect news visibility.