Scott Morrison has flagged yet another ill-considered move on international broadcasting by the Liberal Government that yet again demonstrates the contempt the Liberals have for the ABC.

More than a week after Bill Shorten’s speech on The Foreign Policy of the Labor Government, Scott Morrison is scrambling to play catch up in the Pacific and trampling over the national broadcaster as he does.

Liberal attacks and budget cuts to the ABC since 2013 have seen the Australia Network shut down and the cessation of ABC shortwave radio transmission in the Pacific.

The short-termism of the Liberal Government has seriously undermined Australia’s presence in the region and removed important avenues of soft diplomacy.

Having woken up to the fact that the Pacific should be core business, the Liberal Government recently commenced a Review of Australian Broadcasting services in the Asia-Pacific and a Soft Power Review, both of which are still in train.

Yet even before those reviews have been completed, Scott Morrison is flagging moves to replace lost ABC capacity in the region with commercial services.

The Government must explain:

  • Why has Scott Morrison announced soft power measures with the media ahead of the outcomes of the Departmental reviews?
  • Why has Scott Morrison been negotiating with commercial networks about broadcasting Australian content into the region, when the ABC Charter sets out international broadcasting as a function of the ABC?
  • How will the Government support the provision of commercial services in the region when section 31AA of the ABC Act prescribes the providers of Commonwealth-funded international broadcasting services?
  • What taxpayer funds will the Government put towards commercial services in the Pacific?
  • Why is Scott Morrison so committed to commercial children’s programming being broadcast to the Pacific, but his Government is yet to confirm whether Australian kids will continue to enjoy such programs?

Now into the sixth year of neglecting the Pacific and attacking the ABC, Australia can’t afford another term of this Liberal Government.