ABC and SBS funding

ANTHONY ALBANESE MP .
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1 week ago
ABC and SBS funding
ANTHONY ALBANESE MP 
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY:Well, thanks very much, Sally and Zhi. It is extraordinary that we have such fantastic candidates to represent the Labor Party in Banks and Reid and to return those electorates to the Labor fold at the next election. I'm absolutely determined that both Sally and Zhi are elected at the next election because what they would bring is passion and strong representation for these communities that need a Labor Government. They need a Labour Government that will stand up for their interests and not leave people behind. Could also say it's great to be here today with Michelle, Tony, Jason, half the shadow cabinet are here today. And that's a good thing. It shows how important Today's announcement is for the Labour Party. The Labor Party has always stood up for our public institutions. And what Labor will do under a Labor Government is we will firstly restore the $83 million to the ABC that was cut by the current government when they came to office. Secondly, and most importantly, we will grant them the certainty that they require to make investments to go forward in a way that maximises the output that they have and the services they provide. By providing five-year funding rather than every three years. The attacks on our public broadcasters must stop. And under this government, what we've seen is a constant undermining at the very time in which we know that the public broadcaster is our most trusted news source. We know also, that when there's an event like the bushfire crisis, at the same time, as Scott Morrison who's discovered choice, but was not giving people choice to shake his hands when he went to Cobargo and other places, those communities relied upon the ABC literally to save lives, because the other communications infrastructure simply wasn't up to scratch in those regional communities. That's why this five-year funding frame that the ABC had requested, is the right way to go. And it stands in stark contrast to what the government is offering - A review in order to intimidate the ABC as Ita Buttrose, the chair of the ABC, appointed under this government, has pointed out so strongly. This must stop and we must support our public broadcaster. This increased funding with funding certainty over five years, we'll do just that. And also, the SBS plays such a critical role in our multicultural community. Communities like this one here in Rverwood rely upon it. They rely upon it for news and information. And SBS should be located in the heartland of multicultural Australia, which is right here in Western Sydney. And this announcement today of having a review into whether it's appropriate for SBS to relocate to Western Sydney is a positive step forward. It's one that recognises the important role that SBS plays in our multicultural communities. And it's one that also recognises that location does matter in terms of sending that message, that SBS is a vital part of our multicultural community and that the heartland is right here in Western Sydney and southwest Sydney. I'd ask Michelle to make some comments as well.

MICHELLE ROWLAND, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS:Thank you so much, Anthony. What we are announcing today is about ensuring the independence of the ABC and SBS and stability for their funding to ensure they can keep the public informed, that they can keep producing great Australian content and they can keep reflecting all Australians. The ABC and SBS are pillars of our democracy and as we said we know the vital role they played during the pandemic and especially during the lockdown. Since this Liberal Government came to power, some half-a-billion dollars has been cut from the ABC. That is despite Tony Abbott giving an explicit promise, staring down the barrel of a camera before the 2013 election, and promising no cuts to the ABC or the SBS. The ABC and the SBS are trusted national institutions. Scott Morrison is not trusted and the Liberals cannot be trusted when it comes to our public broadcasters. But as Anthony also said, it is vitally important that we have the SBS reflecting the vast majority of people in Sydney. And that includes the large numbers and the diversity of this great part of Western Sydney and southwest Sydney. This feasibility study will examine through the frame of cities policy. This is about building back better as we come out of the pandemic. It's about working in partnership with local governments. It's about delivering for local communities, not only in terms of the media, but also in terms of community space. Ensuring that local organisations have places where they can produce content and have their faces and voices seen and heard. So this is a fantastic announcement today. And our great local mayor, he I'm sure will have something to say he is very interested in this, as I know many councils right across Western Sydney as well. And we will introduce a competitive process into what we are proposing here today so that we get the best outcomes for Western Sydney.

KHAL ASFOUR MAYOR OF CANTERBURY BANKSTOWN: Thank you and thank you Anthony and Michelle and, and Sally and Zhi and Jason and Tony and the Labor team that are here. Obviously as the Mayor of Canterbury Bankstown I strongly believe that SBS should be located in the heart of multicultural Australia, and that is here, and the ideal location for me will be Campsie, but I think a competitive process is important to make sure that the SBS meets its charter obligations is able to deliver multicultural stories in the midst of the multicultural communities it serves. And I think the engagement from our multicultural community will also improve if SBS is located here. And we don't have people blowing in from Artarmon and I think it's important that we take that step and I'm really happy to be part of the Labor team that's going to deliver an important process that is going to potentially move SBS to where it belongs here in the heart of multicultural Australia.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much Khal, happy to take questions.
 
JOURNALIST: Mr. Albanese Matt Doran from the ABC in Parliament House. Thank you for indulging us on the phone. Today. One question about this announcement before a few other topics. This is a time when sources for news and entertainment are far more vast than ever before. How do you think it washes with the community, your argument to put more money into public broadcasting when there are so many more choices and other media organisations also really feeling the pinch in the media environment at the moment?

ANOTHONY ALBANESE: Well, what we're talking about here is restoring funding that was cut. What we're talking about here is also restoring trust and faith. Tony Abbott went to the election of this coalition government saying there be no cuts to the ABC or SBS. We are stepping in to fulfil the commitment that was made by the Coalition, that they betrayed. They betrayed that trust to the community. And at a time when during the pandemic accurate information on issues including health is more important than it's ever been before. During this period, we have come to rely upon that information directly being received. And that's why it's important that we have trusted news services. We know at the same time that we have misinformation out there. Misinformation with dangerous consequences about conspiracy theories. Now, more than ever, I think people need that reliable public broadcaster that they can rely on that they can trust. And we know from every survey, that the ABC is Australia's most trusted news source. And there's a very good reason for that. Which is why we need to maintain its independence, which is why we need to provide certainty for that investment going forward. And we also know that it's not either or. There are so many people who now work for different news organisations who've had their training through the ABC. That's where they began. That's where they learnt their skills, and then they go on to the whole range of information sources, which are now available out there. So the ABC and SBS players play a vital role in communication not just for their body, their organisations, but for the entire communication system. Which is why they should be valued, respected and trusted.

JOURNALIST: On some other matters, Daniel Andrews, in condemning the attack on the daughter of a Victorian crossbench MP, again made reference to this issue of doublespeak when it comes to calling out violent and threatening behaviour. Do you think he's directly blaming, and do you directly blame? the Prime Minister for creating an environment where that sort of behaviour is apparent?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: The Prime Minister needs to explain why it is that on his Facebook post, he took out the criticism of the demonstrations and some of the violent rhetoric that was there, but just put up on his own post the information and his spin about choice and about freedom, and how he understood that this was "difficult" for a range of people. The Prime Minister had an opportunity to be unequivocal in his language and he chose not to do so. The Prime Minister had a chance to lead and show strength. Instead he showed weakness and opportunism. This is a Prime Minister, who, when women marched on Parliament House, made a statement on the floor of the Parliament, that The March for Justice, if it occurred in other countries, they may well have been shot. But at the same time, when people marched on the Victorian Parliament has, with gallows, threatening explicitly to hang Members of Parliament and to engage in violent behaviour and threats towards Members of Parliament. The Prime Minister chose to say that he understood their frustration. It's up to the Prime Minister to explain why it is that those that distinction is there from the messages that he has sent. But what we need in this country is not the entry of the sort of politics of fear and division. Just a short period of time ago, parliamentarians all spoke about the murder of a British MP, the second time that has occurred. We've had an MP in the United States as well murdered. We haven't had that here in Australia, people are perfectly entitled to peacefully demonstrate and to go out there and say their views. They are not entitled to engage in the violent language and images that we've seen in recent times. And it's not legitimate for them to threaten Members of Parliament, which is what we have seen, not just in Victoria, but in Queensland. I spoke to Brittany Lauga, last night, Queensland MP, the member for Keppel. I've spoken to MPs and the Premier of WA have of course has had to shut, he's electorate office, this is not appropriate, it should be called out. And they shouldn't be an attempt to do anything other than be clear in rejecting this behaviour and the language.

JOURNALIST: Even though we haven't seen certainly in recent weeks, or months or years, that sort of violence that we've seen in the UK in the US we do, of course had a history with John Newman in Western Sydney back in the 1990s. But do you fear that even though we haven't seen it here so far, we are getting to a situation where the atmosphere in Australia is so febrile that elected representatives like yourself could be targeted by extremists?
 
ANHONY ALBANESE: Well, I was briefed by the Home Affairs Minister, when Parliament last set and the security agencies. I had a meeting this week with the AFP.  it is of concern. And certainly, I thank the Minister for her briefing. She reached out which was appropriate, and we had constructive dialogue. And she's been very professional in the way that she's handled this issue. That's the appropriate response. Not the response, or the lack of clarity, which was there from the Prime Minister, who spoke about when he got very clear question about what occurred in Victoria. He spoke about unvaccinated people being able to get a cup of coffee in Queensland. People will draw their own conclusions here. It's pretty obvious what, what's going on. And it's pretty obvious it's not leadership from our Prime Minister.

JOURNALIST: The ACTU Secretary Sally McManus wants Labor to give unions more power in the IR space if it wins the election. Do you have any plans to expand the union's ability to get involved in things like bargaining arrangements if you do become prime minister?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: We have released our industrial relations policy, that is about having a strategy to see wages being lifted. We saw this week; real wages are falling behind. Over the forward estimates real wages are expected to fall behind over the next four years.  We see a rise in insecure work. So, we've released a range of policies out there for all to see. I launched it in January in Brisbane, and our changes for more secure work for dealing with issues including gig workers, for addressing casualisation for making secure employment, one of the objectives of the Fair Work Act. For making sure that we deal with Same Job, Same Pay, that I'll have more to say about on Monday in the parliament for making wage theft a crime. What we've seen from this government is an attempt to further undermine workers’ rights and an attempt to further drive down wages. Mathias Cormann, said that low wage growth was a part of their economic strategy, a key part of their economic architecture. And we know that that is the case. What we need is to work with unions and business. And I've had constructive dialogue with unions and business. They have a common interest going forward, I'll be working constructively with them, as opposed to the government who will always seek to divide people. That's why the Reserve Bank Governor has consistently said that low wages are holding back our entire economy.

JOURNALIST: And just one final question. Labor has made such a big campaign about the fact that Australia needs a Federal Integrity Commission, there are some suggestions that the government could hold off introducing its bill in the next couple of weeks of Parliament and actually take this issue to the election. I can see you smiling, as you hear this question is that do you think that that's something a gift from the political Gods when it comes to your campaign strategy, that a policy like this that has been lauded for such a long time, or at least promised such a long time could still be a long way off?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, Scott Morrison said he'd take it to the last election. He committed to a National Integrity Commission in 2018. Since then, we've seen sports rots. We've seen the pork and ride scheme for commuter car parks where there aren't even train stations. We've seen major infrastructure be determined on the basis of colour coded sheets in the Prime Minister's office. We've seen a reported sexual assault that occurred, and now the subject of legal action of course, but is alleged to have occurred in the minister's office, just down from the Prime Minister's office. And the Prime Minister, of course, established his former chief of staff to do an inquiry into what his own office knew. We've seen land purchased in Badgerys Creek for $30 million of taxpayer’s money that was valued at $3 million. We've seen consistently contracts issued without tender processes to companies that are associated with the Liberal and National parties. We've seen Angus Taylor stay in the cabinet producing documents of which we still don't know where they originated, we just know they aren't real. And you can stay in the cabinet on that basis, we saw Christian Porter stay as a cabinet minister. And we still don't know, in terms of Christian Porter's fund where up to $1 million was donated. We see a government that governs in its own interests rather than in the interests of taxpayers. So, it's not surprising that the government led by Scott Morrison has resisted a national anti-corruption commission. But I tell you what we need to restore faith in our political structures. We need a strong anti-corruption commission at the national level that has the capacity to undertake independent investigations, that has the capacity to investigate politicians or public servants, that has strong powers equivalent to that of an ongoing Royal Commission. That's what we need in this country. And I'm not surprised that a government that has acted in the way that it has, consistently and just dismissed any idea of integrity and our political system, wants to avoid that. This is a Prime Minister, who this week when Parliament sits for the last fortnight, and I make this offer to the prime minister. He says that he wants to debate ideas, he himself has declared that there'll be an election. We're in election campaign mode, according to the briefings out that he's done. Well, I'm not quite sure why the Prime Minister's decided to stop governing and start campaigning. But that's a decision for him, given He's incapable of governing because he has no agenda for today, let alone for tomorrow.

But I make this offer to the Prime Minister. If you want a debate, he can even decide the topics. We can have one every day. 10 minutes aside, me and him, one on one, about Australia's future. We can talk on Monday about the National anti-corruption commission, Tuesday, we can talk about climate change. Wednesday, we can talk about infrastructure. Thursday, we can talk about the economy. Next Monday, the Monday after we can talk about employment. The next day, we can talk about industrial relations, and the position of workers and secure work. We can talk about gender issues, and lifting women up and women's workforce participation, childcare, closing the gender pay gap. We can have a discussion about all those issues on the following Wednesday and on Thursday, the second week, we can talk about international relations, and how we address Australia's place in the world. I make that offer to the Prime Minister. It's available I'm available every day for next fortnight to talk about ideas. What I suspect the Prime Minister will do is shut down debate whenever there's any attempt to have them. What I suspect the Prime Minister will also do is just run scare campaigns have Dorothy Dixers every day trying to scare people and make things up about what the Labor Party stands for? Well, if he's got the courage of his convictions, if he thinks he's such a strong leader, bring it on. I welcome that. And that's an open offer made to the Prime Minister. I've got Tony Burke here. My Manager of Opposition Business, he and Peter Dutton can sort out an arrangement over the weekend and we can schedule it for the next fortnight. I welcome that, because I have great candidates, including Sally and Zhi here with me today. But I also have a great team, including Michelle, Jason and Tony, who are with me today as members of the Shadow Cabinet and his future cabinet ministers. But I also have an agenda for the future, a future which we want to shape, not the position that the Prime Minister wants, which is to sit back and allow the future to shape us. Thanks very much.

ENDS
Communications and the Arts