When the Coalition delivered its budget in 2018, it froze the indexation of the ABC’s base funding from July 2019, which represents a cut of $83.7 million over three years. This came on top of $254 million worth of funding cuts to the ABC by the Coalition since 2014.
In its 2019 budget in April, the Government confirmed that it would retain the funding freeze introduced by Malcolm Turnbull, but it extended the ABC’s enhanced news-gathering program funding with support of $44 million.
Speaking last week, the ABC’s Managing Director, David Anderson, warned that job cuts and programming disruption were “inevitable” if the Coalition is returned as a result of the $83.7 million budget reduction.
On Saturday, Labor – which has already pledged to reverse the freeze on indexation – announced that, if it was elected, the ABC would receive an additional $40 million for the creation of Australian television shows including drama, comedy, children’s entertainment and music program. It also promised $20 million for the SBS to fund dramas, documentaries, entertainment and factual programs.
In a statement, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said: “The ABC and SBS are at the heart of Australian culture – generations have grown up watching home-grown stories, and communities across the country rely on our trusted public broadcasters for information, education and entertainment.”
“Unfortunately, the Liberals have inflicted funding cuts and ideological attacks on the ABC and SBS. That’s why Labor will reverse Scott Morrison’s $83.7 million cut to the ABC and invest a further $60 million to grow our public broadcasters into the future.”
Shorten said that the two broadcasters played a “vital role” in supporting Australia’s screen content industry through their investment in independent production companies.
In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Anderson said that Labor’s commitment “is obviously a much better scenario for us”.