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Thursday, 28 June 2018
Page: 79


Mr GEORGANAS (Hindmarsh) (16:40): The ABC and SBS belong to every single Australian—and that has been the case from the day that the public broadcasters were established. Since the ABC was launched in 1932, it has been a part of the shared history of this nation. It has made its impact on generations of Australians, including our generation. It has grown from a single radio service into a multimedia platform operation. SBS was launched in 1978, with its radio station, and it established its television presence in 1980. It has provided us with digital TV content since 2001. SBS was built on the values that, regardless of an Australian's geographic location, age, cultural background or language, they have the opportunity to access quality, independent Australian media. This is very important, because time and time again we've seen this government seek to undermine our public broadcasters. Since 2014, $282 million has been cut from the ABC, with nearly $84 million lost this year alone, and that includes 800 jobs and the loss of Australian content and services.

The ABC and SBS have never been the government's to sell. As I said, the public broadcasters belong to the Australian people. Every day, the ABC continues to support members of our regional areas—rural and remote communities. It keeps us connected by producing local content and providing emergency information in times of disaster. The ABC has been with us for decades. It has been with us through fires, floods and other disasters. It is the first to notify the Australian public of such events.

SBS has an audience that reaches over 13 million per month via TV only, an extra seven million online per month and 1.3 million via radio per month. They tell us stories that make a difference. We've all seen the wonderful production series and documentaries they've done. This government may have conveniently forgotten its promise of no cuts to the ABC or SBS, but I can ensure you that, on this side of the House, we haven't forgotten. I haven't forgotten. The opposition haven't forgotten. Labor will continue to stand for the people's broadcasters.

I value what our public broadcasters have so generously given us. They have supported Australian voices, Australian content and Australian ideas. More than likely, we are able to hear our own Australian accent continuously on both the SBS and the ABC. They have provided opportunity for local content to get off the pages of the novels, magazines and books that have been written and to find an audience through their TV and digital programs. They play an important role in connecting Australians with one another and with the world. Just last week alone, we saw SBS coming to the rescue with the FIFA World Cup—and I congratulate them for it—when the broadcast by a private company reverted back to the public. We have had no issues with the broadcast of all the football games that we have been seeing every night. The people's game for the people's broadcaster is what it is. SBS CEO Michael Ebeid has said on the record that the broadcaster had been unable to secure the entire rights following budget cuts in recent years. Whose cuts? This government's cuts.

Content from Australian public broadcasters is so important. It builds good relations with our neighbouring countries and the region. We are a global citizen that can contribute, and the government would be crazy to give that up. It is so important to support the ABC and SBS, who support local industries and create jobs. As I said, with those cuts that we've seen just recently, 800 jobs are to go from the ABC. That's 800 people who were contributing towards our arts, towards our TV programs and towards all the ways information is given to us. It is so important. I cannot put that more seriously. It is absolutely imperative for us to have a voice with integrity, so that the public can trust that the content is put through in an impartial way. That's what the ABC has been doing for many, many decades.