Cuts to ABC funding would brand Abbott a liar, say Friends of the ABC

ABC FriendsFriends of the ABC have said Prime Minister Tony Abbott risks being branded a liar if he does not promptly deny reports the Government plans to cut funding to the public broadcaster, after pledging its budget would not be touched prior to last year’s election.

Yesterday’s reports in Fairfax’s Sun Herald and The Age stated the Coalition government was poised to cut funding to the ABC and strip it of its international broadcasting service.

They claim Abbott and his colleagues in the cabinet expenditure review committee are looking at proposals to reduce the size of the budget for the broadcaster and are discussing how much they can cut and what would be politically feasible.

Glenys Stradijot, campaign manager of the Friends of the ABC in Victoria, said cutting funding would be a clear breach of Abbott’s pre-election promise.

“Tony Abbott’s promise before the election was clear. When asked, he categorically ruled out cuts to the ABC: ‘No cuts to the ABC and SBS’. There have been no unforeseen changes that can warrant a promise like this being broken,” Stradijot said.

“If Mr Abbott were to break his promise, it would be a case of clear deception. It is unacceptable for anyone to mislead the community in a bid to be elected, let alone the person seeking the highest office in government. Voters view such deception as a breach of trust and will respond accordingly.”

Stradijot said most Australians support the ABC and accept it plays a critical role as an unbiased public service broadcaster.

“Some politicians may be sensitive to the scrutiny of an independent broadcaster and prefer to keep the public in the dark. But the vast majority of Australians appreciate and support the ABC’s critical role as an unbiased and intelligent national public broadcaster,” Stradijot said.

“Should this government break its promise and cut the ABC in any way, they can expect a huge backlash that will be sustained until the next election.”

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said there were no further comments other than those issued by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s office over the weekend. “We don’t speculate on the budget,” the Turnbull spokesman had told Fairfax.


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