The Morrison Government has thumbed its nose at recommendations from two separate inquiries that there be stable funding for the ABC, and resorted to excuses in response.
Both the Senate Inquiry into allegations of political interference in the ABC and the ACCC’s 18-month Digital Platforms Inquiry examined recent Liberal budget cuts to the ABC, and both recommend stable funding for the ABC.
First, the Government’s assertion that “The level of funding being provided to the ABC is increasing year on year” is deeply misleading according to the Government’s own Portfolio Budget Statements (Page 76, Table 2.1.1). The fact is that after years of cuts under the Liberals, the ABC’s funding is budgeted to decline in 2019-20 and again in 2022-23.
Second, the claim that the ABC’s funding is “stable and adequate” is fiction. It pretends the Liberals’ repeated and arbitrary cuts never happened, ignores ABC warnings that latest cuts threaten Charter delivery and dismisses the ACCC’s finding that “the public broadcasters are not currently resourced to fully compensate for the decline in local reporting”.
Third, the Government’s line that “the ABC has greater funding certainty than any other media organisation in the nation” is a perversion of logic. The challenges faced by the commercial media sector don’t serve to justify cuts to the ABC, rather, they support recommendations that there be stable and adequate funding for the ABC.
When it comes to the ABC, the only thing that is certain under the Liberals is that there will be more cuts – and the first of another three years of ABC budget cuts have only just kicked in.
Labor calls on this third term Liberal Government to drop its ideological obsession with undermining the ABC, to respond to these inquiry recommendations by reversing the cut of $83.7 million to the ABC and to start governing for all Australians.