Labor acknowledges the incredible work by the ABC for its program and service-provision during the recent bushfires, drought, floods and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In times of crisis, Australians turn to our national broadcaster for trusted news and information and recent events demonstrate just how much we value and need a strong ABC.
The ABC provided essential emergency broadcasting during these extreme weather events, educational programming for children being home-schooled during the coronavirus shutdowns and fact-based reporting to counter misinformation, among many other things.
The ABC is a trusted public service that has been invested in and built up by generations of Australians and dedicated ABC staff.
The need for this trusted national platform is greater now than ever, yet the Morrison Government is cutting ABC funding. Scott Morrison is cutting the ABC despite the fact that:
- climate change means there will be increasing need for emergency broadcasting by the ABC;
- public interest journalism is in decline, news outlets are closing and the ACCC found that the ABC is not resourced to fully compensate for the decline in local reporting;
- misinformation and disinformation is on the rise and Australians need trusted sources of information like the ABC;
- Australia’s creative industries are reeling from concert, festival and production closures relating to COVID-19 and need investment and support from the ABC; and
- Australia should be ‘stepping up’ in the Pacific and the ABC provides international broadcasting and has deep connections in the region that should be leveraged.
Since 2014, and in breach of an election promise not to, the Liberals have cut general ABC funding as well as reduced funding for local news gathering, including in regional Australia.
Now more than ever we need a strong public broadcaster, yet Scott Morrison has locked in a further $83.7 million in cuts, that will force the ABC to cut 200 staff.
This comes on top of 800 ABC staff already out the door as a result of Liberal cuts, totalling 1,000 ABC staff gone and $366 million in ABC cuts under the Liberals since 2014.
This Government has ignored the ABC’s warning that the latest cut of $83.7 million will make it difficult for the ABC to meet its Charter requirements and audience expectations, and has failed to address the ABC’s resourcing challenges.
Now the Minister for Communications and the Arts, Paul Fletcher, is pressuring the ABC to sell ABC property to cover Liberal National cuts. In March 2020, the Minister wrote to the ABC Managing Director to encourage the inclusion of a detailed property asset strategy as part of the ABC’s five year strategic plan.
The ABC has deferred the release of its five year strategic plan, including the announcement of the impact of Liberal National budget cuts while it deals with the impact of COVID-19.
It is important that ABC management respect the rights and interests of ABC staff who are directly impacted by the five year plan, which will identify how the ABC will meet deep cuts inflicted by the Morrison Government.
Labor will hold the Government to account for the impact of its latest round of cuts.
The ABC is there for Australians and when the Government cuts the ABC, Australians miss out.
The ABC needs stable and adequate funding and now is no time to cut the ABC.