Tuesday, 29 November 2016
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
That the Senate—
(a) opposes recent cuts to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that have resulted in:
(i) the loss of almost 500 Australian jobs,
(ii) the closure of all 50 ABC retail outlets around Australia,
(iii) a substantial reduction in Australian made children's content,
(iv) a substantive reduction in local regional content, and
(v) a reduction in government funding totalling 29.2 per cent over 30 years;
(b) opposes the severe cuts to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation outlined in the 2016 Budget paper totalling almost $50 million over the forward estimates; and
(c) supports the ongoing strengthening of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation as a bold, vital and well-funded national broadcaster with strong local and regional content for all Australians.
The government opposes this motion. The coalition is committed to budget repair and the ABC, like all government agencies, has been asked to contribute to this effort. The ABC and SBS efficiency study demonstrated that the national broadcasters could realise significant savings without impacting on their programming or services. The ABC has previously confirmed that the decision to close its portfolio of leased stores was in no way related to the government's efficiency savings. The ABC has further advised that there has been no reduction in ABC commissions of children's content. The ABC has also confirmed that its regional services have been quarantined from any efficiencies or savings.
While Labor supports this position, we want to put on the record that Labor believes the ABC is one of Australia's most important public institutions. We believe that the ABC plays a very important role in adding to the diversity of news in our media landscape and providing an opportunity for Australian content to be shown and heard. The ABC also plays a vital role in our regional and remote communities by providing news, public announcements and emergency messages. Labor supports the Greens' motion on the basis that it expresses Labor's sentiment and record on the ABC.
In government, Labor implemented measures to ensure the institutional independence of our public broadcasters and their governing boards. Labor also provided additional funding that helped establish a dedicated digital children's channel and found efficiencies in the ABC that helped fund ABC News 24 and ABC online. This is in stark contrast to Mr Turnbull who, as a former communications minister, savagely cut more than $250 million from the public broadcaster in the horror 2014 budget. Most recently, the 2016 budget, in the hands of Mr Turnbull, has cut $48.6 million. (Time expired).