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Issue #1709      November 4, 2015

Support the rebuilding of your ABC

The incoming Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull promised a “more innovative, open and outward-looking Australia”. Such a country, though, needs a fully independent and properly resourced national broadcaster.

“The harsh and unreasonable cuts to ABC funding were announced while Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had charge of the Communications portfolio.”

Damage to the ABC during the Abbott government years (and while Malcolm Turnbull was Communications Minister) has been extensive. Despite pre-election promises, cuts to the ABC have already resulted in some 500 talented employees being lost to us, plus hundreds of millions of dollars taken from operational and programming budgets.

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) condemned the ABC’s decision to cut another 29 workers last month from its Technology division, a decision forced by the government’s ongoing attack on the important services the ABC provides for all Australians.

Those staff cuts came on top of the 12 Technology jobs axed by the ABC in September. More than 430 jobs have now been cut since the ABC’s budget was slashed by $254 million in May and November last year.

CPSU ABC section secretary Sinddy Ealy said: “This is an illogical decision by ABC managers who don’t understand that short-term savings will come at a long-term cost to the needs of the Australian public and the productivity of those ABC staff who remain.”

The ABC has never been more reliant on technology, yet in just two months the ABC axed 42 jobs and sacked some of the most technically experienced workers the broadcaster has. At the same time they are creating new tiers of upper management roles to oversee fewer workers.

“Unfortunately this decision means there are likely to be more technical glitches and interruptions to programming as a result of this decision,” said Ms Ealy. The CPSU is concerned that the cracks are already starting to show and there’s only so much the hardworking ABC staff who remain can do to paper over them.

The ABC’s ongoing funding shortfall means many of its operating systems are not compatible. Experienced and senior technologists are needed to make sure the ABC’s systems literally work together so that programs make it to air.

“The harsh and unreasonable cuts to ABC funding were announced while Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had charge of the Communications portfolio. These job cuts are the latest sign that those cuts are unsustainable and should be reversed,” Ms Ealy said.

The cuts

  • Direct cuts of $254 million, leading to mass redundancies – nearly 500 people – many highly creative
  • The centralisation of broadcast services, disconnecting and disadvantaging regional and rural Australia
  • The loss of the Australia Network contract and closure of overseas bureaux, restricting access to international news
  • Less exposure to the work of the creative producers, directors, musicians and artists.

Australians are losing out and the ABC risks failing its Charter to provide innovative and comprehensive broadcast services and programs that contribute to a sense of national identity. Added to that, some media organisations continue to run a relentless campaign to denigrate and undermine Australia’s vital National Institution that is the ABC.

Clearly, Malcolm Turnbull’s accession to the top job does not mean all is now well. Remember that, as Communications Minister, he took part in the budget cuts and attacks on the ABC’s independence.

Next article – Action urged on NT report

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