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Liberal attacks on the ABC continue.

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  Australian Labor Party   National ALP

Stephen Smith - Liberal Attacks On The ABC Continue Wednesday, 21 March 2001

Liberal Attacks On The ABC Continue Stephen Smith - Shadow Minister for Communications

Media Statement - 16 March 2001

Shadow Minister for Communications, Stephen Smith, condemned the Liberal Party today for its repeated financial and political attacks on the ABC, calling on the people of Ryan to send the Howard Government a message that the Liberal Party's attacks on the ABC must stop.

This morning on ABC Radio's AM, Liberal Party National Director Lynton Crosby accused the ABC of entering into the political proess.

WILLACY: So, whatever happens, won't the result be seen through the prism of John Howard's leadership? And would a loss spark any questions about that leadership?

CROSBY: Well, the ABC may want that to happen, Mark.

"Australians value the independence of the ABC and the impartiality of its journalists. Australians will not stand for these repeated attacks.

"Mr Crosby's comments say more about the Liberal Party's campaign to destroy the ABC than any bias in the ABC's news coverage.

"According to advice I have received, the ABC did not receive a single formal complaint of bias during either the Western Australian or Queensland State elections.

"But Mr Crosby is not the only Liberal who has attacked the ABC in recent times. The Liberal Party's candidate for Ryan, Bob Tucker, has also joined in.

"Last Friday, Mr Tucker accused the ABC of biased political coverage. Mr Tucker was reported in The Courier Mail on 9 March 2001 saying that:

The character of the coverage made it hard to take seriously claims the Government was being unfair to the ABC. ●


"This is another classic example of the politics of retribution that the Howard Government has sought to take out on our independent national public broadcaster, the ABC," Mr Smith said.

"A key feature of having an independent national public broadcaster is that you reserve to the ABC the right to criticise you, even if you believe that criticism to be unfair. While the ABC has an obligation to be balanced and reflect a diversity of views, funding for the ABC should never be threatened because of one side's accusations of bias.

"Mr Tucker has also not been honest with the people of Ryan about the Howard Government's funding of the ABC. Mr Tucker was reported in The Courier Mail yesterday, Monday, 12 March 2001, as claiming that the ABC had received 'real funding increases' under the Howard-Government.

"The truth is that the Howard Government has placed the ABC under sustained political and financial pressure since 1996, cutting $66 million from the ABC Budget in 1996 and 1997 and failing to provide the ABC with sufficient funding to make the transition to digital broadcasting," Mr Smth said.

"Mr Tucker also reportedly claimed that the Howard Government had favourably received last year's ABC request for an immediate increase of $40 million a year in additional funding.

"Nothing could be further from the truth," Mr Smith said.

"When asked about ABC management's proposed cuts to ABC News and Current Affairs, Mr Howard said on 26 October 2000 that:

We provide the ABC with a good budget and it's up to the ABC as an independent broadcaster to decide how the money is allocated. ●

"When asked about the ABC's request for additional funding, Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson said on 27 October 2000 that the ABC had to learn how to do 'more with less'.

Likewise, Communications Minister Senator Richard Alston said on the ABC's 7.30 Report on 1 November 2000 that:

…the decision taken at the last Budget was on a triennial funding basis.

…Now once that's done with any Board, public sector or private sector, what you normally expect is that they will go off and work within that funding envelope.


"And as recently as yesterday, Senator Alston was asked on the ABC Radio's Media Report whether the Government would respond favourably in the Budget to ABC Managing Director Jonathan Shier's request for additional funding. Senator Alston replied:

Well like every other claimant on Government largesse, he'll [ABC Managing Director Jonathan Shier] have to wait and see when the Budget comes out … So we have to obviously look carefully at all requests for additional funding.

…Particularly when , as I should stress, the ABC has alredy been given a triennial


funding program, and it would only be in exceptional circumstances that you would move away from that position.

"The people of Ryan will be the next to pass judgment on the Howard Government's attacks on the ABC.

"I hope that when they vote tomorrow they send Mr Howard and other Liberals Like Mr Tucker and Mr Crosby a message that they want these politically motivated attacks on the ABC to stop.

"A vote for Leonie Short and Labor tomorrow will send the Howard Government a clear message that the Australian community want the ABC to be an adequately resourced and genuinely independent national public broadcaster," Mr Smith concluded. Back

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.

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