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Monday, 18 June 2018
Page: 3113

Senator GRIFF (South Australia) (17:32): This is a debate that never needed to take place. It's obvious that our public broadcasters should remain just that: public. Anyone who thinks the ABC could deliver a better service or even an equal one if it were in private hands is very much deluding themselves. The same level of high-quality investigative journalism could not be carried out under a private model. Under a private model, editorial decisions are subject to both the deep pockets of advertisers and the ideological whims of executives. Whether you love the ABC or hate it, you cannot deny that it plays an important role in our community. It beggars belief that the Liberal federal council is willing to tamper with it under the misguided belief that we can hive off parts for regional Australia and commercialise the rest.

Centre Alliance also opposes the move to cut $84 million from the ABC's operating budget over the forward years. We will continue to call on the government to ensure that ABC and SBS are adequately funded. The ABC has already lost 800 jobs since this government came to power, and it continues to look for efficiencies in its budget. We don't think that continually squeezing our public broadcasters and threatening to give them the boot, as the Liberal federal executive did over the weekend, is responsible in any way.

Public broadcasters have a unique ability to inform and empower Australians to take part in public debate. They also play a vital role in ensuring a transparent political process and the accountability of state institutions towards the public. We know that, without adequate public resources, that valuable independent voice will be lost.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Sorry, Senator Griff, the time for this debate has now expired.