Labor believes the ABC is one of Australia’s most important public institutions.
We believe that the ABC plays a very important role in adding to the diversity of news in our media landscape and providing an opportunity for Australian content to be shown and heard. The ABC also plays a vital role in our regional and remote communities providing news, public announcements and emergency messages.
In Government, Labor implemented measures to protect the institutional independence of our public broadcasters and their governing boards. Labor also provided additional funding that helped establish a dedicated digital children’s channel and supported efficiency measures in the ABC that helped fund ABC News 24 and ABC online.
Labor’s positive approach is in stark contrast to that of Liberal member Malcolm Turnbull who, as Communications Minister, slashed more than $250 million from the public broadcaster in the disastrous 2014 Budget and, as Prime Minister, cut a further $48.6 million in the 2016 Budget.
Labor values Australia’s tradition of strong public sector broadcasting. We are concerned that Coalition budget cuts are pressuring our national broadcaster to seek efficiencies in ways that undermine important service provision. For example:
- Cuts to the transcription of news and current affairs content for Australians who are deaf and/or hearing impaired. Labor made representations to the ABC urging a reversal of cuts to transcription services and is encouraged that the ABC responded recently to say these cuts would be revisited pending review and the development of a broader access strategy.
- Ending shortwave radio transmission in the Northern Territory from 31 January 2017, reducing the availability of local radio, emergency radio and emergency messages across the region. Labor has made representations to the ABC requesting this decision be suspended pending engagement by ABC management with stakeholders in the NT and review of the decision in terms of substance and timing.
- Recent programming changes announced by the ABC. Labor has put a series of Questions on Notice to the Minister for Communications about the Catalyst program and has been in contact with campaigners from Save RN Music, as well as the ABC, as we seek to understand the reasons for, and impact of, these changes.
Labor’s actions on these matters in the community interest stand in stark contrast to the silence from the Minister for Communications.
The difference between Labor and Liberal could not be clearer: Labor will put people and the services they rely on first. The Liberals will continue to cut our public broadcasters. The ABC will always be better off under Labor.