Aussie PM says Bing can replace Google

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Australia’s prime minister said on Monday that Microsoft is confident it can fill the void if Google carries out its threat to remove its search engine from Australia.

A Google executive told a Senate hearing last month that it would likely make its search engine unavailable in Australia if the government goes ahead with a draft law that would make tech giants pay for news content.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he has spoken to Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella about its search engine, Bing, filling the space.

“I can tell you, Microsoft’s pretty confident” that Australians would not be worse off, Morrison told the National Press Club of Australia.

“These are big technology companies and what’s important to Australia, I think, is that we set the rules that are right for our people,” Morrison said.

“Having a news environment in this country that is one that is sustainable and is supported commercially, then this is vital to how democracies function,” he added.

Although Bing is Australia’s second most popular search engine, it has only a 3.6 percent market share, according to web analytics service Statcounter. Google says it has 95 percent.

Nadella initiated the Zoom conversation with Morrison, The Australian newspaper reported.

A Microsoft statement confirmed that the online meeting had taken place last week but released no details of the conversation.

“We recognize the importance of a vibrant media sector and public interest journalism in a democracy and we recognize the challenges the media sector has faced over many years through changing business models and consumer preferences,” Microsoft said.