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Thursday, 10 May 2018
Page: 3778

Dr FREELANDER (Macarthur) (10:56): Over 80 per cent of Australians trust the ABC and over 84 per cent trust the ABC's news and current affairs. Three quarters of Australians have contact with the ABC every week. In my family, four generations have interactions with the ABC every day. We've been watching and listening to the ABC since it was launched by Prime Minister Joe Lyons in 1932. It's no secret that Malcolm Turnbull, Scott Morrison and Mitch Fifield hold the ABC in contempt. They have cut over $250 million from the ABC budget since 2014, and the 2018 budget has further cut ABC funding by $123 million from ongoing funding, including $43 million to support news and current affairs services.

In the modern world, what this government hates the most is the success the ABC is having with its digital platforms. This is a sign to the government that no matter how much they want to destroy the ABC, the general public has given them the answer. In this era famous for fake news our national broadcaster and its staff provide our country with a high-quality, trustworthy and independent service. I'm sure all members would agree that our nation and indeed our political processes are made all the better thanks to the ABC. Our national broadcaster, through its dedicated reporters—and names such as Andrew Olle, Bill Peach, Richard Carleton, Mike Carlton, Caroline Jones, Margaret Throsby and, more recently, Andrew Probyn, Laura Tingle and Chris Uhlman spring to mind—ensures that governments are held to account for their decisions. We, as politicians, are rightly scrutinised by the broadcaster, no matter how uncomfortably at times. Without this our political processes would lack integrity.

This government's agenda is quite transparent to me, and it's a shameful disgrace. Despite ripping funding from our national broadcaster, Malcolm Turnbull can find millions of dollars to give to Fox Sports for no particular reason, provide billions to big business and allow big banks to rip money off consumers without scrutiny. There is no fat to cut at the ABC. What fat there was was cut years ago. They are now facing a government intent on death by a thousand cuts. This is a philosophical decision by the government. They hate the ABC and they'll do what they can to destroy it. This will suit the coalition's masters quite well and they're quite happy with it. It's an evolving tragedy. I call on all politicians of integrity to stand firm against this reactionary tide.