Shortwave radio: ‘They will get their information broadcast from China’

It was on January 31st the ABC ended its shortwave transmission service in the Northern Territory and to international audiences.

Yesterday a coalition of protesters gathered outside the ABC headquarters in Ultimo to protest restructure plans by new Managing Director Michelle Guthrie, including ending shortwave transmission.

Members of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), Hands off Radio National Music and ABC Friends say a range of management decisions have created a crisis at the national broadcaster, telling radioinfo that recent decisions  demonstrate how out of touch the ABC Executive has become. 

Among the speakers yesterday was ABC Friends NSW President Mal Hewitt who spoke about the impact the shortwave closure is having on local communties, but not before outling a list of people that rely on it.

  • Tour operators and passengers virtually over the whole of the north of Australia.
  • Aboriginal Sea Rangers who work right around the top end.
  • Fisherman both commercial and indigenous.
  • Stock camps always on the move.
  • Cattle Stations.
  • Truckies.
  • Grey Nomads – there are clusters of them around their FM receivers on a Saturday afternoon listening to the footy.
  • Road construction workers
  • Miners and prospectors ever the oil rigs off the north west coast take short wave.
  • Tradesman on the road…

“And residents of about 150 remote Aboriginal across the Northern Territory, the top of Western Australia and Queensland. Another very important group of people that totally goes under ABC management’s radar, I suspect ABC management doesn’t recognise brown people and it specifically doesn’t recognise brown and poor people.
“PNG, Solomons, Fiji, Vanuatu – on all those island nations people listen to radio Australia on shortwave, it’s where they get their world information and it’s where they get their emergency information from.
“During the Fijian coup, Fiji media was closed down but they still had good ol’ Australian shortwave they could receive, but that’s gone.
“Most of those pacific nations have protested to Julie Bishop’s office but Julie Bishop’s office supported the cut off of short wave radio to the Pacific. So where will they get their information from? The new giant China. They will get their information on English language broadcast from China.'”

South Australian senator Nick Xenophon says he will introduce legislation to Parliament to force the ABC to reinstate its shortwave radio service. 

While Bill Shorten wrote to the Prime Minister on Australia Day, calling on the Turnbull government to intervene.

“They chose the silly season to make the announcement December 6th ,  says Mal. “Everybody goes into hibernation and ABC management had the hyde to say there were only 20 letters of protest. Most aboriginal people in remote communities wouldn’t know how to write a letter to ABC management.”
“We pay these people and they don’t know how to do their job.”


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