After lying to the Australian people about whether they would cut the ABC’s budget, the Liberals are now denying that they are, once again, cutting the ABC’s budget.
In Parliament today a string of Liberal and National MPs stood up and tried to claim that the freeze on the ABC’s indexation is not, in fact, a cut.
Here are the facts:
Fact: Since Tony Abbott’s specific promise of “No cuts to the ABC”, on the eve of the 2013 election, the Liberals have cut the ABC’s budget three times.
Fact: Malcolm Turnbull slashed the ABC’s budget by $254 million in 2014, by $28 million 2016 and announced a further cut of $83.7 million in 2018.
Fact: Budget Paper No. 2 of 2018-19 states that the pause on indexation of the ABC’s operational funding “will result in savings to the Budget of $83.7 million”.
Savings at the ABC’s expense. In other words: a cut.
The ABC Managing Director has said that the latest cuts “would make it very difficult for the ABC to meet its charter requirements and audience expectations” and “could not be absorbed by efficiency measures alone”.
Yet, at Budget Estimates this week, Minister Fifield defended his characterisation of the cuts as part of ‘Strengthening Australia’s connectivity, creativity and cultural heritage’:
Senator Urquhart: Can you tell me how does cutting $83.7 million from the ABC’s budget strengthen Australia’s connectivity, creativity and cultural heritage?
Senator Fifield: I don’t think seeking a Commonwealth agency to be the best steward it can of taxpayer dollars is in any way at odds with strengthening connectivity, creativity and cultural heritage.
The Liberals lied about cutting the ABC’s funding in 2013, they deny they’re cutting the ABC’s funding now, and they expect you to believe budget cuts strengthen, rather than weaken, the ABC.
No amount of Orwellian doublespeak will fool the Australian public when it comes to the Liberals’ record of broken promises, cuts and attacks when it comes to the ABC.