The belated concerns of Coalition MPs who are seeking assurances from the ABC not to cut local content reflects the extraordinary self-interest and hypocrisy of a Coalition Government who promised before the last election that there would be “no cuts to the ABC or SBS”.
In many communities across the country the ABC and SBS are vital. Residents in rural and regional Australia rely on the ABC as their main source of news and weather information and migrant communities rely on the specialist services offered by the SBS.
While an extremely loud minority deride the public broadcasters, the vast majority of Australians see them as independent, entertaining and important public institutions.
Indeed, according to Newspoll, 84 per cent of Australians declared the ABC was performing a valuable role.
That is why it is not good enough for Barnaby Joyce to express his concerns about the future of ABC country services after his own Government broke its promise not to rip funding from the ABC.
Likewise, Christopher Pyne’s decision to create a petition opposing cuts to South Australian ABC services borders on the absurd.
Both Joyce and Pyne are senior members of Tony Abbott’s Cabinet. Both signed off on these cuts. Both have done one thing in Canberra and said another thing in their electorates.
For them to turn around now and plead to the ABC Managing Director not to cut services that impact them is astonishing.
On top of these two special efforts, Coalition MPs, including Anne Ruston and Bridgette Mackenzie, spent Senate Estimates hearings this week seeking assurances from the ABC that their backyards would be exempt from any cuts to services.
Why? Because they don’t want to be held responsible from their constituents who will justifiably be angry with them if local services are impacted.
And then when these same MPs demand the ABC be more efficient, which inevitably requires more centralisation, they complain that the ABC is not decentralised enough to cover their local communities. Give me a break.
All Liberal and Nationals representatives went to the last election promising not to cut the ABC and SBS. It was a clear promise and no amount of obfuscation from Malcolm Turnbull will change that.
All Coalition representatives have now betrayed their communities by not standing up to Abbott and Turnbull on their cuts to the ABC and SBS.
They can complain after the event all the like, but it won’t change the fact that were elected promising no cuts and have now ripped more than half a billion dollars out of the ABC and SBS.
Coalition MPs will be constantly reminded of Anton Enus’ interview with Tony Abbott until Election Day and no amount of feigned and belated concerns will change the fact that they were elected off the back of a series of lies.