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Friends of the ABC rate the Democrats number one!

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Senator Vicki Bourne Australian Democrats Communications Spokesperson

6th November 2001 MEDIA RELEASE 01/702

Friends of the ABC rate the Democrats number one! Australian Democrats’ Broadcasting spokesperson, Senator Vicki Bourne, has welcomed the release of the Friends of the ABC’s election issue of their newsletter to members. The ‘Friends’ have awarded the Democrats’ policy and record on the ABC an ‘A’. The Greens were awarded a ‘B’ followed by Labor and the Coalition.

“I am thrilled with this endorsement. The Democrats have long been campaigning for the restoration of the independence and integrity of the ABC and it is great that an organisation as influential as the ‘Friends’ has recognised the work we have been doing,” Senator Bourne said.

“Our fully costed policy for the ABC contains an initial injection of $200 million to allow them to meet shortfalls in staffing, production, and the transition to digital. We will then seek to restore funding to 1985/86 levels.

“The Democrats also have two Bills relating to the ABC. The first will establish a committee to oversee appointments to the Board. This will stop the current situation of the board being stacked with political ‘mates’. The second prohibits the commercialisation of the ABC’s services.

“Labor’s policy will only see the restoration of the ABC’s funding to 1996 levels. This totally ignores the fact that the process of undermining and under-funding the ABC began in the Keating years. Restoring funding to 1996 levels is simply not good enough.

“Neither Labor or Liberal have indicated they are willing to support our Bill to prevent political appointments to the Board.

“Only the Democrats, as the ‘Friends’ have recognised, are fully committed to a strong and independent ABC,” Senator Bourne concluded.

For further comment: Senator Vicki Bourne 02 9247 3377 / 0418 861 098