Constituency Statement: Budget

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:08): I want to report to the House about an issue raised with me by a delegation of local constituents who are members of the GetUp! organisation who attended my office on 7 May and I indicate to the House that I am joined by a famous television personality and acclaimed feminist in talking about this issue in the House today. Of course, I am referring to Peppa Pig. Members may be aware that the shadow minister has expressed concern about the future of Peppa Pig and has indeed put out a press release recently expressing, 'Peppa Pig: Roasted by Abbott's budget porkies.' I invite Peppa Pig to have a seat here while I talk about what the GetUp! campaigners raised with my office.

Obviously they were concerned, because before the election the Prime Minister indicated, 'There will be no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no changes to the pension, no changes to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS.' The GetUp! petitioners, like so many people in my electorate, greatly value the ABC. In particular in our area, we have an ABC regional radio service which is very important to our local community.

Sadly, as much as I was hoping that I could give them good news after the budget, I was not able to do so. It was another broken promise by this government. The budget in fact cut $232.3 million from the ABC and another $8 million from SBS. It abolished the Australia Network, despite the fact the network reaches up to 167 million households, giving our vital Asian neighbours and the world an insight into Australian life and values. The ABC Managing Director, Mark Scott, confirmed the ABC cuts were a broken promise and said ABC services will be affected. I quote his words directly:

The funding cuts will be disappointing for audiences. The government gave repeated commitments before and after the election that funding for the Corporation would be maintained.

There are concerns not only in my area but right across rural and regional Australia. Many colleagues in the chamber now who represent those areas of Australia understand the absolute importance of the ABC to all of our communities. I think it is fair to say that they feel particularly betrayed, because they were given a promise before the election that there would be no cuts.

Labor invested strongly in the ABC. We believe in the public broadcaster and we are very concerned to see that it is retained as a strong provider of services across all of our communities. I will continue to fight, I can assure those GetUp! members, for the strength of the ABC into the future.