In the final sitting week of Parliament, Communications Minister Mitch Fifield introduced the last of three bills devised by Pauline Hanson to undermine our national broadcasters.
Under questioning in the Senate yesterday, the Minister also refused to rule out further budget cuts to the ABC or SBS in 2018.
On top of this, the Turnbull Government is poised to release terms of reference for its insidious ‘competitive neutrality inquiry’ into the ABC and SBS: without doubt this is code for cuts.
It is completely unacceptable in a modern democracy for a government to use public broadcasting as political bargaining chip, yet that is exactly what the Turnbull Government is doing.
Just as Malcolm Turnbull is prepared to cancel democracy for a week, so too is he prepared to attack our public broadcasters out of pure self-interest.
As retribution for a Four Corners story about One Nation, Pauline Hanson made it clear she is “going after the ABC’s budget”.
In exchange for One Nation’s support to remove a key media diversity safeguard earlier this year, the Turnbull Government entered a Faustian pact with Pauline Hanson to attack the ABC.
The One Nation-Liberal-National triumvirate has lined up three bills, a potentially disastrous ‘competitive neutrality inquiry’, and the threat of budget cuts to bully and menace our public broadcasters in 2018.
When he is not doing the bidding of his media adviser, Pauline Hanson, Minister Fifield keeps himself busy writing letters to the ABC Board demanding changes on anything from the Hottest 100 to the ABC enterprise agreement.
Now more than ever, we need strong, trusted and independent public broadcasters, yet all the Turnbull Government can do is attack and undermine them at every turn.
Labor believes public broadcasters perform a vital role in our society. We know the ABC and SBS continue to be the most trusted media in Australia.
After years of budget cuts at the hands of Malcolm Turnbull, first as Communications Minister and now as Prime Minister, it is clear you can’t trust the Liberals with the ABC or SBS.