Senate debates

Monday, 24 November 2014

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

3:11 pm

Photo of Deborah O'NeillDeborah O'Neill (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

Today I stand also to take note of Senator Abetz's answers on questions related to the government's gutting of the ABC and the SBS, despite the Prime Minister's ironclad promise on national television on 6 September: 'There will be no cuts to the ABC or SBS.' We all know that the Prime Minister has well and truly broken that pre-election commitment. 'No cuts to the ABC; no cuts to SBS'—today the grim reality of that set of broken promises can be added to the list of many, many others unfolding before the eyes of this nation. And it is not a pretty sight.

More than 400 people, close to 10 per cent of the ABC's ongoing workforce, face potential redundancies over the coming months. It is in that sneaky space that we see this sneaky government, and the Leader of Government Business in the Senate, pretending there are no job cuts. To actually have the audacity to say here, in question time, that there are no job losses and not say the word 'today' at the end just represents the depths to which this government will go to hide the truth from the Australian people. More of Australia's trained professional workforce—in many cases quite simply extraordinarily talented individuals, with the ability to tell Australian stories—will leave their jobs, will be dismissed. There are Australian families associated with these great workers—people with mortgages, with lives in our cities and regions, people facing the chop as a result of the Prime Minister's broken promise.

Just like the forced closure of Medicare Locals, the loss of hundreds of regional jobs will have a damaging impact in the regions' economies. These regions will face enormous strain when these talented ABC professionals will be forced to move on from the regions that they love. This is a government that deceived the Australian people. It is removing the value of this set of people's incomes from those local economies. That will be felt. Do you think, Mr President, that townships across the country—including, in Western Australia, the community of Wagin—will not miss the loss of their ABC? What about the Victorian town of Morwell and the people that are working there for the ABC? We know that office is gone today. In Gladstone, Queensland, every ABC journalist and person working in that office—gone. In South Australia, Port Augusta—gone. And in New South Wales, my home state, Nowra will lose the capacity to tell the reality of life for people in that region, because the ABC is being cut by our Prime Minister, who said there would be no cuts to the ABC.

Where is the National Party while this is going on out there in the region?—crying their crocodile tears and making a whole lot of hoo-ha out in the media. When it really counts, when they should be standing up in their party room, the National Party are going to water. They are weak and they are allowing this to happen. They have to be much louder in their party room and fight for their regions instead of just crying crocodile tears when agency after agency is being cut right across the country.

As a result of Mr Abbott's lies, we are now going to lose—right across this country—the state based 7.30 editions. These are so important. Every state in this country is so different culturally, geographically and economically. The ABC cuts will see an end to these very important community pieces of information that are provided weekly. Today, so far, we know that we will have an overhaul of TV sports coverage. What is up for grabs here? We could lose the Shute Shield. The mobile coverage, getting on-site vans out there to cover sports live, is gone or under threat. Four hundred staff and 100 of them from the news division, including Australian Story, Landline, Fact Checkand Four Corners, face the brunt of cuts—yet the Leader of Government Business in this chamber stood up today and told a bald faced deception of a sentence. I know I am not allowed to call it a lie, so I will not call it a lie.


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