SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS
MEMBER FOR GREENWAY
UNHAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE ABC RURAL AND REGIONAL MEASURES BILL
Today marks two years since Paul Fletcher MP introduced the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Amendment (Rural and Regional Measures) Bill 2019 into Parliament, in one of his first wrong-headed acts as Minister for Communications.
Originally introduced by Senator Bridget McKenzie back in 2015, then reintroduced by Senator Mitch Fifield back in 2017, this bill has had various incarnations under this Government but curiously never been brought on for final debate.
In the five-plus years this bill has been hanging around, Paul Fletcher has been rotated out and back into the rorted Urban Infrastructure Portfolio, and Bridget McKenzie has been rotated out and back onto the front bench after her role in the sports rorts scandal.
It’s the same tired Ministers peddling the same tired bill.
This bill is just window dressing designed to make it look like the Liberals and Nationals care about regional Australia when the fact is, this Government has cut ABC funding at a time when regional Australians have needed trusted news and emergency broadcasting more than ever.
In the face of devastating bushfires, drought, floods, a health pandemic and a mouse plague, this Liberal National Government has seen fit to cut ABC funding and meddle with the ABC Charter.
Meanwhile everyone from the ACCC, to the Lowy Institute, to the Government’s own Efficiency Review has pointed out the ABC is not adequately funded, yet this pointless bill remains.
Scott Morrison’s cuts to the ABC mean that Australians in regional areas are missing out on local newsgathering, missing out on emergency broadcasting and missing out on regional jobs.
The ABC serves all Australians, including in regional Australia, and Scott Morrison’s cuts mean all Australians are missing out on news, current affairs, drama, kids TV, documentary and sport.
For the first time in almost 70 years, there is no ABC voice calling the Olympic Games because of Scott Morrison’s ABC cuts – cuts that forced the end of the ABC’s run as the official non-commercial Olympic Games radio broadcaster.
Much like the three Liberal Prime Ministers and the Liberal National Government that have endorsed it, this bill is old, tired and utterly pointless.