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Thursday, 10 May 2018
Page: 2827

Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaMinister for Communications, Minister for the Arts and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (09:50): I think there's a false assumption in your contribution, Senator O'Neill, and that is that every decision by the ABC to change their employment configuration is a result of funding decisions of the government. As I pointed out earlier, the funding in the current triennium is not being altered. The ABC board and management decided six months or a year ago to reduce middle-management positions in the ABC, I think by about 200. That was a decision of the ABC to free up resources for more content—for a content fund. That decision by ABC management had absolutely nothing to do with resourcing decisions by the government. It happened in the middle of a triennium where funding in that triennium had not been altered. That was entirely a decision of ABC management. ABC management have, over decades, made decisions about employment configuration which were not a result of funding decisions by the government. In fact, Mark Scott made very clear, when he made some changes to employment in the ABC around the time of the last efficiency review, that he had decisions already in train in relation to how the ABC would configure itself and the employment consequences of that. So it is not correct to assert that every decision that ABC management makes in relation to employment matters is a function of efficiency reviews or resource decisions of government. The ABC have always changed the way that they operate as technology has evolved. They have always changed the way that they operate in the wake of their own internal decisions, separate to decisions of government in relation to resourcing.