Janine Kitson, Convenor, Northern Suburbs of Sydney Branch, ABC Friends NSW & ACT
The ABC, Australia’s public broadcaster, is under threat from the savage budget cuts that have recently been announced by the Federal Government. Unless these cuts can be reversed in the Federal Budget 2020-2021, to be released on 6 October 2020, there are grave fears that the ABC will have to curtail many of its services, including those relating to the environment.
Since 2013, ABC funding has been reduced significantly. A recent independent report by Per Capita found that by 2022, the total funding lost by the ABC will be over $783 million. ABC funding has been reduced by almost 30% in real terms since 2013. These cuts have had a severe and demonstrable impact on the ABC’s programs and services.
In contrast to the budget cuts to the ABC, the Federal Government has:
- Provided the commercial media in regional areas with $50 million of taxpayers’ money
- Earmarked $500 million to be spend on the Australian War Memorial
- Announced that Australia’s military budget will be increased to $270 billion.
In June 2020 it was announced that the ABC will farewell over 150 professional staff losing their jobs. These are valued ABC staff who informed, warned and supported Australians during the Black Summer bushfires, literally saving lives, as they continue to do so during the COVID-19 pandemic. Australians rely on the emergency services the ABC provides. Despite this, the Government shows little enthusiasm for the ABC. The cuts will hit ABC News the hardest and the 7:45 am radio news bulletin will be axed.
ABC’s Charter has a clear focus on delivering outstanding and relevant Australian content and this includes information, education, analysis about Australia, through news and investigative journalism. ABC news and programs about the environment include:
- Kosciuszko National Park brumbies causing ‘abhorrent’ damage, says Indigenous river guide, ABC News, 7 July, 2020
- Climate Wars (Four Corners 2020), Climate of Change (Four Corners, 2019), Climate Solutions (Q&A, ABC iview)
- The Murray-Darling River – Pumped (Four Corners, 2017)
- Conservationists speak out – Carolyn Pettigrew, former head of information services, NSW National Parks and Wildlife talks to Robyn Williams about Our national parks need protection (Ockham’s Razor, ABC Radio National, 2017)
- War on Waste (ABC iview)
- Can We Save the Reef (ABC iview)
- Extinction Nation (Four Corners, 2019)
- Australia’s Ocean Odyssey: A journey Down the East Australian Current (ABC iview)
- Digging into Adani (Four Corners, 2017)
- Fake news (Media Watch)
- Kids teaching kids about the environment (Bush Telegraph, Radio National, 2014)
- Organic, regenerative and sustainable farming (Gardening Australia, Landline, ABC TV).
Without the ABC, news about the threats to the environment will be silenced and ignored.
The ABC needs our help. The $84 million budget cuts must be reversed in October 2020 when the Federal Budget is announced. Please take action.
- Phone, write or email the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, and Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher calling on them to reverse the budget cuts to the ABC
- Join ABC Friends NSW & ACT and get active in one of their branches across NSW https://www.abcfriends.org.au/nsw_act
- Invite ABC Friends NSW & ACT to speak to your local environment and/or community group.
This is not a battle we can afford to lose. Continued pressure must be put on the politicians. When the ABC is under attack – so too is the environment.
 The ABC’s Charter requires it to provide innovative and comprehensive services which contribute to a sense of national identity, inform, educate, entertain and reflect Australian cultural diversity; to promote the arts; and to broadcast to other countries programs that will encourage awareness and understanding of Australia. The ABC is a service to all Australians, accessible without direct cost. It is independent and the foundation of our democracy.