Labor pledges $2 million to re-establish shortwave radio in the NT | radioinfo

Labor pledges $2 million to re-establish shortwave radio in the NT

Monday 19 November, 2018
Stephen Jones

In Alice Springs today, Shadow Minister for Regional Communications, Stephen Jones, joined with Senator Malarndirri McCarthy and Warren Snowdon to announce that a Shorten Labor Government will provide the ABC with $2 million in funding to help re-establish shortwave radio services across the Northern Territory.  
 
Labor says Australians living in remote areas already face significant communications challenges and the loss of access to ABC services from shortwave radio has cut people off from emergency broadcasts as well as being an important connection to the rest of Australia.  
 
The ABC cut their shortwave service in January 2017 following Federal Government budget cuts and since then, organisations like the NT Government, NT Cattlemen’s Association, Northern Territory Seafood Council representing commercial and tourist fishing businesses, Amateur Fisherman Association, Indigenous Rangers, long haul transport drivers and the Toyota Land Cruiser Club representing Grey Nomads have raised concerns about the loss of these services.
 
For remote First Nations communities, shortwave radio equipment is relatively cheap to purchase and does not require external power to operate where, by contrast, other forms of communication such as mobile phones, TV and broadband all rely on mains power.
 
In January 2017, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten wrote to then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull asking him to work with the ABC to restore the shortwave. 
 
At the time, Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator Nigel Scullion, was critical of the ABC’s decision saying “Shortwave radio transmission is an essential service, especially in times of emergencies such as cyclones and floods, for people in rural and remote areas of the Territory. This is a really poor decision by the ABC Board which is supposed to ensure the broadcaster provides services, such as the shortwave radio service, not provided by other organisations.”
 
Labor believes that it was premature to cut ABC shortwave radio services and that if the ABC had not been under intense budget constraints, this decision would never have been made.
  
Labor’s funding commitment of $2 million to restore ABC shortwave services is in addition to their  commitment to reverse the Morrison Government’s $83.7 million cut to the ABC, as well as a guarantee of funding certainty over the next ABC budget cycle. 
 

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