More proof Malcolm Turnbull's budget cuts are stretching our ABC

Today’s announcement is further proof that the ABC is being asked to do more with less in a challenging media environment.

THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP

ACTING SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS

SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL

SHADOW MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY

MEMBER FOR ISAACS

 

STEPHEN JONES MP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR REGIONAL COMMUNICATIONS

SHADOW MINISTER FOR REGIONAL SERVICES, TERRITORIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT

MEMBER FOR WHITLAM

  

MORE PROOF MALCOLM TURNBULL’S BUDGET CUTS ARE STRETCHING OUR ABC

 

Today’s announcement is further proof that the ABC is being asked to do more with less in a challenging media environment.

Labor’s thoughts are with the ABC staff and their families who will be impacted directly by the ABC’s new strategy announced today. 

While the ABC’s commitment to efficiency is admirable, Labor is concerned that Malcolm Turnbull’s budget cuts are stretching the ABC too thin.

In the disastrous 2014 Budget Malcolm Turnbull as Communications Minister broke an election promise and slashed more than $250 million from the public broadcaster, then as Prime Minister he cut further in the 2016 Budget.

The Government’s record stands in stark contrast to Labor’s 2016 election commitment to invest $60 million over three years in the ABC to produce local drama – a funding boost that would have provided an opportunity for Australian stories to feature prominently in the ABC’s schedule in a market that is increasingly being dominated by international content.

We’ve learned under Malcolm Turnbull that if you don’t properly fund the ABC something has to give. As the ABC Board acknowledges today: “within a fixed funding envelope, choices need to be made on allocating resources.”

Already, in the last few months alone, we’ve seen a range of worrying cuts to programming and services, as the ABC seeks to ‘find efficiencies’:

  • Cuts to music programming on ABC Radio National, a decision that has been condemned across the creative industries.

  • The cessation of the ABC shortwave radio service in the Northern Territory and the Pacific, leaving audiences in remote NT without access to ABC services and despite DFAT seeing the service as important for trade and diplomacy.

Labor welcomes the announcement of increase in regional content roles and a stronger focus on regional broadcasting by the ABC.

Labor would like to see more information about proposed changes, particularly to the ABC’s international services.  We will be seeking assurances that the abolition of ABC International as a separate division will not further damage this crucial Australian voice in our region.

Labor believes the ABC is one of Australia’s most important public institutions – it’s a national treasure.

The difference between Labor and the Coalition could not be clearer. Labor will put people and the services they rely on first, the Coalition will continue to cut our public broadcasters. Our ABC will always be better off under Labor.

TUESDAY, 7 MARCH 2017