ABC - Funding Cuts and Five Year Plan

Labor is concerned that successive cuts to the ABC by the Liberal National Government are undermining this trusted institution.

This Government 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. 

As the ABC Five Year Plan reveals, Scott Morrison’s cuts are forcing the ABC to choose between quality and quantity – by scaling back its workforce, Australian content and radio news.

Australia is in recession and the media is in crisis yet up to 250 ABC staff now face the sack including 70 staff in the News division. These losses will further undermine the Public’s Right To Know and the strength of our democracy.

Our creative industries are struggling, yet the ABC has been forced to reduce its commissioning budget by $5 million per year. These cuts will have a devastating impact on the small businesses in our screen production sector and mean fewer Australian stories will be told.

ABC workers and services are essential. From emergency broadcasting during the bushfires to trusted education and information during COVID-19, the need for this trusted national platform is greater now than ever.

Scott Morrison is cutting the ABC despite the fact that:

  • climate change means there will be increasing need for life saving 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 COVID-19 restrictions and need investment and support from the ABC; and
  • Australia should be ‘stepping up’ in the Pacific yet ABC international broadcasting and regional connections are underutilised.

Since 2013, 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.

The recent report by Per Capita estimates that the cumulative funding cuts to the ABC under the Coalition Government, over the three triennial funding periods from 2013-2022 will be over $783 million.

This estimate matches that figure calculated by Alexander Wake, RMIT and Michael Ward, University of Sydney in their April 2019 article for The Conversation.

Scott Morrison has refused to reverse the latest cuts of $83.7 million, which were first announced back in 2018 as Government attacks on the ABC led to shocking allegations of political interference and the departure of the former Chair and Managing Director.

Labor has called on the Government to reverse these cuts and will continue to hold the Liberals and Nationals to account for seven years of attacks on the ABC.

The ABC is a trusted public service that has been invested in and built up by generations of Australians and dedicated ABC staff.

The ABC needs stable and adequate funding and now is no time to cut the ABC. 

When Scott Morrison cuts the ABC, it is Australians who miss out.