A question mark continues to hang over the Enhanced Newsgathering Program funding for the ABC which was introduced by Labor in 2013, then cut back by the Liberals.
Funding for this newsgathering initiative, which strengthens local and regional news, runs out in only a few months yet still the Minister has not confirmed whether it will be continued.
At the Senate Inquiry into allegations of political interference in the ABC this week, the Acting ABC Managing Director warned that without extension of that funding and combined with the Liberal Government’s $83.7 million budget cut, the ABC faces a $127 million budget hole over the next three years.
The ABC confirmed that without funding for the newsgathering initiative, news and emergency broadcasting could be affected in a number of areas.
To guard against political interference, Australia’s public broadcaster needs stability.
That is why Labor has committed to reversing the Liberals’ $83.7 million cut, as well as guaranteeing stable funding over the next budget cycle.
It is also why Communications Minister Mitch Fifield must confirm extension of the funding for enhanced newsgathering as a matter of urgency.
Minister Fifield has a concerning track record when it comes to leaving key decisions to the eleventh hour.
Everyone from the Community TV sector, the Screen Production sector, the Interactive Game Development sector and the blind community has suffered uncertainty waiting for the Minister to make a decision.
The instability and chaos of the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government is not good enough for the ABC, one of Australia’s most trusted institutions.
The Liberals have not only failed to commit to stable funding, but now they won’t even come clean on enhanced newsgathering funds which will soon expire.