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ABC - 70 years on and time for stability and innovation.

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MEDIA STATEMENT MEDIA STATEMENT MEDIA STATEMENT MEDIA STATEMENT Hon Dr Carmen Lawrence MP Shadow Minister for Reconciliation, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Affairs; the Arts and Status of Women

Federal Member for Fremantle

1 July 2002


Labor joins communities across Australia today in congratulating the ABC on 70 years of broadcasting. The ABC is one of our most important national institutions, central to our cultural and artistic life.

The ABC plays a vital role in reporting and showcasing Australia’s unique cultural achievements, particularly from regional and remote communities. It has played a pivotal role in exposing to a wider audience Australia’s Indigenous culture through programming such as Message Stick on television, Awaye and Speaking Out on radio, and through its online service.

Sadly, reduced funding has curtailed the ABC’s capacity to commission and broadcast the work of Australian artists and to provide the opportunities for such work to be discussed and evaluated. While the ABC has performed splendidly with the resources they have, this Anniversary provides the opportunity for the Government to recognise the costs to our cultural life of its diminished commitment to the ABC.

The last few years have been a tumultuous time for the ABC, which has endured funding cuts, poor morale and an exodus of talented staff. All of these have reduced the ability of the ABC to innovate and have decreased Australian content.

Without a renewed government commitment to the ABC, can we expect the level of Australian content and locally made programs to improve? Also vital for the survival and growth of the ABC is a harnessing of new technology and the digital industry. These are important to prevent the ABC becoming a marginal broadcaster with little relevance across the wider community.

The launch of DiG, the ABC’s new online music station is a good step towards embracing digital audiences, which are only expected to increase. Continued programs like this will ensure the promotion and export of Australian culture and talent around the world and sustain the relevance and quality of programming for Australians.

The ABC is a cultural institution that plays a vital role across urban, rural and remote communities across Australia, and throughout south-east Asia. If it is to continue and grow as a public broadcaster in an increasingly competitive, commercial environment the government must provide adequate funding.

Similarly the ABC must manage its funds to retain and maximise local talent, ensuring its survival and relevance as a National broadcaster. We look forward to a new period of stability, independence and innovation with the new managing director, Russell Balding and we look forward to a new commitment from the Government to make the ABC a leading, world-class broadcaster.

Contact: Amber-Jade Sanderson (08) 9335 8555 or 0409 132 975