Bill Shorten vows to undo ABC’s $83.7m budget cuts should Labor be elected

Bill Shorten has proposed a reversal of the Coalition’s $83.7m cut to the ABC should the Labor party claw its way out of opposition and into government at the next election.

According to Shorten, doing so will ensure the broadcaster can meet its charter requirements and adapt to the digital media environment, while still maintaining jobs.

Shorten said “enough is enough”

It follows the 2018 Budget announcement from federal treasurer Scott Morrison, which saw the government freeze the ABC’s annual funding indexation. 

The decision amounts to an $84m hit to the ABC’s bottom line, with ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie lamenting that the public broadcaster has been hit by $254m in cuts since 2014.

ABC news boss Gaven Morris also warned there was “no more fat left to cut” at the broadcaster. Just last year, the ABC restructured, dividing the organisation into three divisions, based on genres of content.

Following the 2018 Budget announcement, the ABC launched a proposal to double its investment in digital, which would eventuate in the loss of up to 37 positions.

On Monday, Shorten said “enough is enough”.

“From Playschool to Bananas in Pyjamas, from cricket to the Hottest 100 Countdown, to getting critical warning messages out about floods and fire – the ABC is a part of our national fabric,” Shorten said.

“That’s why Labor will stand up for the ABC and fight against the conservatives’ ideological war against our public broadcaster. Only Labor will reverse Turnbull’s $83.7 million of cuts and guarantee funding certainty over the next ABC budget cycle.

“This investment demonstrates Labor’s commitment to the ABC’s independence and to maintain the ABC as our comprehensive national broadcaster.”

He said Australians needed the ABC as a “strong, trusted” and “independent” public broadcaster, and Labor could protect it.

“At a time when too many Australians feel disengaged from their democracy and distrustful of their representatives, Labor wants to restore trust and faith in our institutions. Part of restoring trust is supporting a healthy public interest media sector, and protecting that trusted institution – the ABC,” he said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has assured the electorate the election will not be held until next year.


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