Phone a Coalition politician, happening today in response to ABC cuts

Around Australia today, people who appreciate the ABC are being urged by Friends of the ABC to phone their Coalition politicians.

“ABC Friends launched its ‘Phone your Coalition Politician Day’ in response to pending cuts to the ABC,” said Glenys Stradijot, ABC Friends National spokesperson. 

The Government is set to cut ABC funding by a further $50 million per annum, on top of the $9 million annual cut announced in the May Budget. A statement today from Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, announcing the cut, said:

The Government has released the final funding arrangements for the next five years, which will see the ABC and SBS eliminate inefficiencies in their back office operations ensuring they deliver Australians even better value. The Government strongly supports the role of our public broadcasters in delivering the news and programs that Australians love and value.

An Efficiency Study was launched in January to identify how the ABC and SBS could find efficiencies in their back office operations—finance, property, IT, administration, corporate and marketing—without impacting on programming.

In total, including the 1 per cent down-payment announced in the May budget, the overall savings to the broadcasters is $308 million over five years or 4.4 per cent of taxpayers’ investment.

For the ABC this means it will receive $5.2 billion over five years rather than $5.5 billion—a saving of $254 million or 4.6 per cent…

The Government is confident that these savings can be achieved without affecting the diverse range and quality of programmes provided by the ABC or SBS.

In response, ABC Friends has asked members and supporters to “let their local Liberal or National member of parliament know how much they value the ABC. Callers are already expressing their deep disappointment that the Government has broken its pre-election promise not to cut the public broadcaster.”

“The community simply doesn’t believe Minister Turnbull’s claim that cuts to the ABC are to achieve efficiency. The Government still hasn’t released the results of the ABC efficiency investigation undertaken when the Coalition was last in office. Leaks from that report revealed the public broadcaster was seriously underfunded. 

“Inadequate funding of the ABC over many years is already resulting in a loss of breadth, depth and innovation in some areas. Audiences outside NSW are acutely aware of the loss of local programming that has resulted from the ABC’s increased centralisation in Sydney for so-called efficiency.

“A further $50 million annual cut would not be a small cut in the context of the ABC’s existing budget and the job the community expects its national broadcaster to do.

“The Phone a Coalition Politician campaign is for a day. However, the Government can be assured there will be more to come if its cuts to the ABC proceed.” said Stradijot.


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