MICHELLE ROWLAND MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS
MEMBER FOR GREENWAY
CLEAREST EVIDENCE THAT MORRISON MUST REVERSE ABC CUTS
Scott Morrison has received the clearest evidence yet that he must reverse his cuts to the ABC, with the ABC Managing Director this morning highlighting the whole of agency impact of the unprecedented bushfire season.
David Anderson today confirmed the ABC has covered 850 emergency broadcasting events since 1 July 2019 so far. That’s more than double the number of emergency broadcasting events they covered all of last year, and almost triple the year before that, and we’re only halfway through this year’s reporting period.
In times of crisis, Australians turn to the national broadcaster for trusted news and information. The ABC is a lifeline for at-risk and impacted communities, particularly when other lines of communication are affected by extreme weather events.
The ABC saves lives. Yet Scott Morrison is cutting the ABC.
Scott Morrison has locked in a further $83.7 million in cuts that has already forced the ABC to drop its Olympics coverage and that will force the ABC to cut 200 staff.
This comes on top of 800 ABC staff already out the door as a result of Liberal cuts, totalling 1,000 ABC staff gone and $366 million in ABC cuts under the Liberals since 2014.
Covering natural disasters requires boots-on-the-ground to gather information, provide support and timely advice to Australians who need it most.
The ABC is already stretched by Liberal cuts, and this bushfire crisis is stretching it even further.
There is no magic pudding. The cost of the ABC’s emergency broadcasting comes out of its base funding. These costs are growing, even as Scott Morrison is reducing ABC funding.
Scott Morrison ignored the ABC’s warning that his cut of $83.7 million would make it difficult for the ABC to meet its Charter obligations.
The Government has ignored direct representations by the ABC about the need to address the ABC’s systemic resourcing challenges.
At the height of the bushfire crisis in December, Scott Morrison ignored the ACCC which found that the ABC is “not currently resourced to fully compensate in the decline in local reporting” and recommended that the ABC have “stable and adequate funding”.
Now the Government is ignoring the impact of the bushfires on the ABC.
A national response to the bushfire crisis must include the ABC, given its critical role.
It makes no sense for this Government to continue its cuts when all the evidence shows that there will be greater calls on the ABC to help keep Australians safe as future bushfire seasons become longer and more intense.
Labor calls on Scott Morrison to stop ignoring the facts, to reverse its cut of $83.7 million to the ABC and to start governing for all Australians – Australians who rely on the ABC.
THURSDAY, 23 JANUARY 2020