MEDIA RELEASE - MORRISON MUST RULE OUT ABC AND SBS MERGER - 28 SEPTEMBER 2018

The Liberals have taken another step towards the end of the ABC and SBS as we know them, with Scott Morrison failing to rule out merging the ABC and SBS.

Scott Morrison had a clear chance to reassure Australians that he will not merge the ABC and SBS during an interview on ABC radio this morning. Instead he dodged the question and said he would await the findings of the Government’s own 2018 National Broadcasters Efficiency Review, despite the fact the Terms of Reference for that review expressly exclude consideration of such merger.
 
Jon Faine: At the moment I can’t help but notice that there’s no Managing Director of the ABC, there’s no Managing Director of the  SBS, and there’s a vacancy for a new Chair of the Board of the ABC.
 
Are you tempted to merge them as part of this Efficiency Review?
 
Scott Morrison: Oh well, I’m going to wait for the results of the review to come back, Jon. I mean those sorts of ideas have been floated before but look ... I’ll wait to see what the review says. I think that’s the fair and sensible thing to do.
 
Jon Faine: Are you tempted?
 
Scott Morrison: It’s not about whether I’m tempted or not. It’s about what the evidence is and what the report says, so I’ll do it on an evidence basis.

 
The Liberals hate the ABC and have attacked and undermined it at every turn.
 
As part of the Liberal Government’s ongoing attacks on public broadcasting, Scott Morrison as Treasurer announced a further $83.7 million in cuts to the ABC as well as a further Efficiency Review into the public broadcasters as part of this year’s Federal Budget.
 
In addition, Labor is deeply concerned at Fairfax media reports that former Foxtel CEO, Peter Tonagh, who is one of two people conducting the Efficiency Review, stated that “It’s an interesting time [to be] doing a review when there are vacancies for two CEOs and a chair position” and “It allows us to be a little more creative, we don’t have to be as constrained as we might’ve been”.  
 
The Prime Minister must come clean with the Australian public and confirm:
 

  • whether merger of the ABC and SBS is truly ‘out of scope’ in the Efficiency Review;
  • whether the Government has discussed the current vacancies at the ABC and SBS as an opportunity to make further cuts into public broadcasting; and
  • what on earth Peter Tonagh means by being “more creative” with the Efficiency Review.

 
The Prime Minister has revealed his true colours about merging the ABC and SBS.
 
Labor will never support merging the ABC and SBS – we will fight these plans every step of the way. Labor’s National Platform is explicit in support for two national broadcasters: ABC and SBS
 
It’s clear the ABC and SBS will not survive another term of this out of touch Liberal Government. The only way to protect the ABC and SBS is by voting Labor.