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Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Page: 7107

Mr LAURIE FERGUSON (Werriwa) (16:40): I want to briefly touch on the point raised by the minister some moments ago, which is the additional funding for SBS, a figure of $158 million over five years to ensure SBS remains a vibrant, dynamic national broadcaster. There is a group in the parliament around the member for Hindmarsh, and someone on the coalition side I apologise I do not recall, supportive of SBS. Recently we had the opportunity to hear a collection of directors, producers and performers, and one of the important points is the leading role that SBS plays in nurturing national talent, undertaking areas that are a bit critical, a bit questioning, a bit difficult that the commercial sector will not undertake. I am very pleased to see that this funding, which includes a move towards a free-to-air national Indigenous television channel, has been funded in this budget.

It is crucial that we maintain a very strong multicultural television sector and radio sector in this country. One of the developments in recent years has been the sophistication of some foreign productions in this country, some of which do not have the nuances of our culture. I have had the opportunity to see some productions from Iran, for instance, which one would say are very effective and really can make an impact. If you go into any household in suburban Sydney these days you will see a variety of overseas television networks broadcasting into people's living rooms. This can have on some occasions a very negative impact upon attitudes. It is 'all right' to have an attitude which puts people in a corner, marginalises them, alienates them and denigrates them as supposedly terrorists et cetera, but a really effective way of doing something about this is having a national broadcaster, and for that matter community television and community radio, in the ethnic sectors. These people are very much affected by the nuances of our culture. They understand the democracy of this country, its legal processes et cetera. I congratulate the government on this initiative.

It is important that people have a medium to preserve their culture, to know what is occurring in their homeland. On occasions we have some controversy about the partnerships that SBS has in regard to Vietnam. That was a good example where there was a significant controversy about utilising the Vietnam national broadcaster's actual feed. But broadly we have an institution which is respected internationally which is there to make sure that the nation-building process this country has accomplished through migration continues, that people are bound together, respect national institutions and at the same time know about developments in their home country and can inform us about what is occurring there. There is also the ability to see cinema that is not mainstream which because of the market realities of American dominance of the industry does not gain much traction outside of a few cinemas in Melbourne and Sydney.

The member for Longman commented that the coalition established this body, and no-one disputes the historic role of the coalition with regard to multiculturalism and diversity. I heard the member for Wentworth last week very fulsome in regard to these measures at Sydney University. Despite what has occurred from some prime ministers, no matter what has occurred historically over the last few years, ministers preoccupied with the use of the word multiculturalism, changing the names of departments on occasion because they so abhor this title, broadly we know that there is support for initiatives such as this. As I say, I strongly commend the government making this initiative.

The other thing that is hitting SBS is a fall in advertising revenues of $19 million. There has been a global financial crisis. Some people do not seem to recognise that. They seem to think that government revenues are the same that they were and they do not see a need to protect jobs in this country, but SBS is one example of an impact of advertising revenue falls. I again congratulate the government on this initiative.