Today the Communications Minister, Mitch Fifield, took a break from writing complaint letters to Michelle Guthrie and released the terms of reference for the Turnbull Government’s competitive neutrality inquiry into the ABC and SBS.
This four-month, ad-hoc inquiry was concocted by Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Turnbull in exchange for One Nation’s vote to scrap a key media diversity safeguard, last year.
This year, Pauline and Malcolm have lined up no less than three Bills, a competitive neutrality inquiry and the threat of further budget cuts to menace and harass our public broadcasters.
Labor condemns the Turnbull Government for using the national broadcasters as bargaining chips to further its political self-interest.
Labor acknowledges that Australians overwhelmingly trust and value the ABC and SBS.
The great irony is that the competitive neutrality inquiry, which is calculated to attack and undermine the national broadcasters, provides an opportunity for a range of organisations and individuals to demonstrate their support for the ABC and SBS.
In breach of an election promise, Malcolm Turnbull slashed the ABC and SBS budgets, first as Communications Minister, then again as Prime Minister.
Meanwhile, Pauline Hanson has made it clear she wants to cut even further in 2018 and actually threatened to block the Federal Budget last year unless $600m was cut from the ABC.
Now, more than ever, we need strong, trusted and independent broadcasters.
Labor declares its support for the ABC and SBS during this inquiry and beyond.
The Turnbull Government does not have a forward-looking or constructive plan for public broadcasting in the 21st century. Meanwhile the ABC and SBS continue to innovate and adapt.