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Anderson hypocrisy on ABC cuts.

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Deputy Prime Minister, John Anderson’s call for the ABC to reintroduce weekend afternoon regional news bulletins is both hypocritical in the extreme and factually incorrect.

The ABC does not currently have regional weekend afternoon news bulletins—they have state based bulletins at those times. Some state based bulletins are becoming national as part of the ABC’s cutbacks in response to the rejection of their funding bid in this year’s budget.

John Anderson claims that the “ABC’s funding has been maintained in real terms”. Mr Anderson must know that his Government cut $55 million per year from the ABC’s base funding after coming to office and this funding has never been fully restored. Additional commitments in digital and on-line programming have put further pressure on the ABC’s budget.

After years of penny pinching under the Howard Government the ABC was finally forced to cut programs this year. Behind the News, ABC Kids and Fly TV have all been axed and the ABC has cancelled plans to roll out ABC radio services to around 60 towns in regional Australia.

The ABC gave the Government more than adequate warning that it could not sustain all of its current activities unless the government provided additional funding in the 2003-04 budget. John Anderson chose to ignore that warning and with amazing hide he is now attacking the ABC for cutbacks caused by inadequate Government funding.

John Anderson’s National Party is a national disgrace. John Anderson should stop blaming the ABC for his own Government’s cutbacks. Be it on Telstra or the ABC, John Anderson will roll over to the Liberals every time while deserting the interests of regional Australians.

September 4, 2003

For further information contact Lindsay Tanner or Peter van Vliet on (03) 9347 5000 or 0408 188 055.