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Monday, 18 June 2018
Page: 3103


Senator HANSON-YOUNG (South Australia) (16:48): I rise to contribute to this debate, and it is an important one. Boy oh boy, aren't the Liberal Party members here in this place today absolutely confused. On the one hand they're suggesting that we should all just trust them that the ABC won't be privatised—that they won't sell it off. On the other hand, we have members in this place who sat in the meeting of the Liberal Party's federal council on the weekend and said nothing, absolutely nothing, when their peak national body voted to sell off the people's ABC. But why would we trust them anyway, because we know that over and over again this government has lied when it comes to their promises in relation to the public broadcaster. They have lied in relation to cuts to the ABC. Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, on the eve of the 2013 election, said point-blank down the lens of an SBS camera that there would be no cuts to the ABC or SBS—point-blank. Well, of course, come the budget, he whacked hundreds of millions of dollars off the ABC. We've continued to see that happen now under this Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. So the truth of the matter is: you cannot trust the Liberal Party at all when it comes to their commitments to our public broadcaster.

The Minister for Communications himself, Mitch Fifield, says that he thinks that 'there is merit' in selling off the ABC. Georgina Downer, the Liberal Party's candidate in the seat of Mayo, in my home state of South Australia, thinks that selling off the ABC is a good idea, although she said today on the campaign trail that that's something that the IPA—her employer—believes, and it's not necessarily her opinion. Well, Ms Downer, do you just say whatever you get paid to say, or do you actually engage your own views and opinions on these issues? Of course, we know there's nothing that the people of Mayo could trust when it comes to Georgina Downer in relation to commitments on the public broadcaster. This is a person who's spent most of her adult life spruiking the idea that the public broadcaster doesn't deserve the funding that it gets currently.

Of course the Liberal Party continue to keep preselecting these people who don't think the ABC should be in public hands, don't support funding to SBS and really do not have concern for the institution—an institution that Australians absolutely love and hold dear. Australians know that the ABC can be trusted as a credible news source. In fact, it is the most trusted institution in this country. When there is a crisis, when there is an emergency, when there are bushfires in the Adelaide Hills, who do people turn to for information about what is really going on? They turn on ABC Radio, and they listen for the emergency warnings. That has happened over and over again to the people who live in the seat of Mayo up there in the Adelaide Hills.

But of course it's not just the Liberal Party who want to cut the ABC's budget; it's also Pauline Hanson and One Nation. What a sneaky, secret deal must have gone on between Pauline Hanson and the government, because we know that, this time last year, Pauline Hanson was saying that, come this budget—

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Marshall ): Senator Hanson-Young, just resume your seat. Senator Williams on a point of order?

Senator Williams: Mr Acting Deputy President, come 30 June this month, Senator Hanson-Young will have been in this place for 10 years, and she still hasn't learned to address people by their correct title. It's a constant point of order I take here: will you ask her to please address people in this place by their correct title?

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you, Senator Williams. I just remind senators that they should address members of the other place and of this place by their correct titles.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Of course, I was referring to Senator Pauline Hanson, who was the leader of the One Nation party, which seems to be disintegrating under her feet as we speak. Perhaps this is because this is a person who does sneaky, dirty deals with the government to whack hundreds of millions of dollars off the public broadcaster. Hundreds of millions of dollars off the public broadcaster is what she asked the Treasurer for, only 12 months ago, and then, boy oh boy, the budget comes out, and what have we got? We've got $84 million whacked off—again—from the ABC. One Nation don't like the ABC. They hate it when ABC journalists report on what their party is doing. They must be hating the reporting that's going on this week. That is backed up now by the Liberal Party, who also hate the ABC so much that they want to sell it off. (Time expired)