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Issue #1801      November 1, 2017

An enemy of ABC/SBS

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has urged federal MPs and Senators to reject legislation Communications Minister Mitch Fifield is pushing to undermine the independence and integrity of Australia’s national broadcasters ABC and SBS.

Minister Fifield has introduced legislation to Parliament which would make entirely unnecessary amendments to the ABC Charter around regional media coverage and fair and balanced news reporting.

Senator Fifield also continues to demand that ABC and SBS disclose the salaries of senior staff and has reaffirmed concerning plans for his department to conduct an inquiry into the ABC and SBS’s competitive neutrality.

CPSU’s ABC Section secretary Sinddy Ealy said: “These pieces of legislation are a fresh reminder that Minister Mitch Fifield and the Turnbull government are not to be trusted with Australia’s public broadcasting future. The changes being pushed here are designed to undermine the ABC and SBS, because that’s what One Nation and the commercial media outlets want.

“Independent inquiry after independent inquiry has established that ABC reporting is impartial and unbiased. Yet a tiny group of self-interested people continue to peddle the notion that they are somehow not being given enough air time on the ABC. The real purpose of this legislation is to give these people another stick to beat the ABC over the head with.”

The CPSU says it welcomes the support that’s already been shown in Parliament, with the ALP and crossbenchers Jacqui Lambie, Derryn Hinch, Lucy Gichuhi and the Nick Xenophon Team supporting an Australian Greens motion in support of the ABC and SBS and making it clear they would not support the Turnbull government’s proposed changes.

“There’s no excuse for the Turnbull government’s barely veiled hostility towards our national broadcasters,” said Ealy. “Minister Fifield continues to try to characterise these changes hatched by One Nation and failing commercial media outlets as sensible. It is disgraceful the Minister entrusted with protecting and enhancing Australia’s national broadcasters is instead using them as bargaining chips.”

The union points out that the current legislation is not the Turnbull government’s first attack on our national broadcasters. Harsh cuts have slashed hundreds of jobs in recent years, but hard-working staff at the ABC and SBS are continuing their critical work providing quality news and other programming for all Australians.

Next article – Higher education funding cuts

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