Monday, 24 November 2014
Questions without Notice
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Abetz. Can the minister confirm that over 400 jobs will be lost because the Prime Minister has broken his pre-election promise that there would be no cuts to the ABC?
As anybody who has been in this chamber even a nanosecond would know, these decisions are for the ABC to make in relation to staffing and in relation to programing. So it is not for the government to confirm anything in relation to the ABC savings that we are seeking to pursue for and on behalf of the Australian taxpayer.
What we are seeking to do is get our budget situation back into shape. It is vitally important that that occurs, because—
Mr President, undoubtedly the Clerk was so enthralled by my commencement that she overlooked to turn on the clock.
The country has a serious situation that needs to be dealt with. We are borrowing $1,000 million per month just to pay the interest on the existing borrowings racked up by those on the other side. While those on the other side were in government they demanded efficiency dividends from national security bodies. They required efficiency dividends from health and from education. But do you know what? They never required them from the ABC. Some people might have their theories as to that. We, nevertheless, say that it is appropriate for the ABC to seek savings, to seek if they can spend the taxpayers' money in a better manner and ensure good return for the taxpayers' dollars.
So when the Australian Labor Party come into this place and champion increased spending for anything, I say to the Australian people and to this chamber: ask yourself one question—where does the money come from? It comes from the pockets of our fellow Australians. That is why any good government has to manage the economy in a sound manner. (Time expired)
Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister confirm that the ABC will close regional radio stations in the communities of Gladstone, Nowra, Morwell, Port Augusta and Wagin because the Prime Minister has broken his pre-election promise that there would be no cuts to the ABC?
As I said in answer to the first question, it is up to the ABC to make these determinations. But what I would say to the ABC management is to have a good look not at your regional centres but at other centres. I would invite them to have a look at Ultimo, in the heart of Sydney, and see whether any savings could be made there instead of cutting in regional areas.
As I have said before, we can make the suggestions and we can make the obvious of observations for the benefit of the ABC board and its management but, at the end of the day, it is for the ABC board and management to determine as to where they would seek to achieve their savings. But I have to say that Ultimo might be a very good place to start rather than in regional centres.
Mr President, I have a further supplementary question. Minister, before the election, the Prime Minister claimed he would give Australians hope for a brighter future. Doesn't cutting local jobs and services and closing regional radio stations condemn communities around Australia to a bleaker future?
The honourable senator is right when she observes that the Prime Minister promised Australians a brighter future. And the bleakest future of all that Australians could face is a debt burden of $667 billion and a burden of deficits going way out, seeing literally thousands of millions of dollars being required to be borrowed each month just to pay off the interest incurred by the debts from those opposite.
Let's be very clear. If this country does want a bright future—and it voted for a bright future in September last year—then we need to get on with the task for which we were elected, which was to fix up the fiscal debacle that was left by Labor. And I do note that one of the greatest interjectors during this question thus far, as per normal, is none other than the failed finance minister of the previous government. (Time expired)