Government cuts PR and ACMA budgets but boosts online safety

The Federal Government has announced it plans to slash $43.3m from its public affairs and internal communications budget as part of its attempts to cut public spending.

Last night’s budget announced that the government would work to save money by “moving to more efficient practices for public affairs and internal communications within Australian Government agencies”, which will likely mean a hiring freeze for communications roles as the government seeks to cut 16,500 public servants over three years.

The budget papers do not specify how it would achieve these cuts beyond saying they “will contribute to streamlining the public sector and reducing staffing.”

The Government also announced cuts of $3.3m over four years to the media watchdog the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), while allocating $10m to online safety, including $2.4m to the controversial Office of Children’s e‑Safety Commissioner.

Digital giants including Facebook and Google have expressed concern about the oversight role of an eSafety commissioner, arguing that proposals to create new laws against cyber bullying, overseen by the office, raise “serious practical concerns” about unnecessary bureaucracy.

The other $7.5m will go to funding online safety programs in schools.

Cuts to the ACMA were expected and are part of a government-wide efficiency dividend.

“We were aware of the one-off 1 per cent efficiency cut, are really encouraged with the work being done across the agency on the deregulation front and remain grateful for the on-going support of government as we prosecute our agenda of making media and communications work in Australia’s national interest”, Chris Chapman, chair of the ACMA, told Mumbrella. 

Nic Christensen 


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