Tuesday, 18 June 2013
That the Senate—
(i) 80 per cent of Australians surveyed believe the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) is balanced and even-handed when reporting news and current affairs and 83 per cent of Australians regard the ABC to be distinctively Australian and contributing to Australia's national identity,
(ii) the motion put to the Victorian Liberal Party Council conference on 25 26 May by the Warragul branch, urging an examination of the feasibility of partial or full privatisation of the ABC and Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) was deferred to the next conference, and
(iii) That the ABC and SBS are vital public news, information, education and entertainment services for the benefit of citizens and audiences rather than advertisers and shareholders; and
(b) calls on:
(i) the Liberal Party to categorically reject the motion put by Warragul branch, and
(ii) all parties to commit to maintaining the ABC and SBS as properly funded public broadcasters with independent boards free from political interference.
The opposition have stated on many occasions that we are not planning to privatise either the SBS or the ABC. The opposition are committed to the public broadcasters. It is well known that policy in the coalition is set by the parliamentary party, but I note that the members of the Warragul branch of the Liberal Party are citizens and are entitled to express whatever views they choose to and should not be condemned for doing so. Unlike the Australian Greens, the Liberal Party in the Victorian division has a completely open state council; we do not have closed sessions, which is why the Australian Greens know that this motion was on the agenda of that conference. But I restate the opposition's commitment to the SBS and the ABC.
Thanks, Deputy President; I probably will not need that long. Senator Fifield had just dismissed out of hand and called this motion a stunt. This is a very simple motion, in response to the more than 10,000 people who signed a petition; we said that we would put this motion forward in defence of public broadcasting. Not only was it a motion that was to be brought forward to one of your Victorian party branches but also it was endorsed by quite senior members of the Liberal Party who joined the Facebook group in its support.
I notice also that you are 'not planning on' privatising public broadcasters. I wonder whether that is in the same way that Campbell Newman was 'not planning on' opening up uranium mining in Queensland before he was elected. You cannot be trusted on a motion like this, and I am very proud to stand with the millions of Australians in defence of public broadcasting. As you work your way down the Institute of Public Affairs hit-list of public policy disasters, we will continue to support public broadcasters in this country.