Opposition leader Bill Shorten vows to restore ABC funding if elected

| 11.06,18. 10:02 PM |

Opposition leader Bill Shorten vows to restore ABC funding if elected

Photo: Bill Shorten vows to reverse the Coalition's funding freeze. (AAP: Andrew Taylor )

Federal Labor would end a funding freeze on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) if elected, effectively restoring $83.7 million to the public broadcaster over three years.

The Coalition plans to pause the ABC's annual funding indexation from July 2019, which means future funding will not change in line with inflation.

Senior government figures say the change is necessary to help the broadcaster live "within its means".

But ABC management have warned it could affect audiences and fails to take into account funding cuts of more than $250 million announced in 2014.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says Labor would guarantee funding certainty over the ABC's three-year budget cycle if elected, noting the broadcaster had already lost 800 jobs since the Coalition came into power.

"Enough is enough," Mr Shorten said.

"From Playschool to Bananas in Pyjamas, from cricket to the Hottest 100 Countdown, to getting critical warning messages out about floods and fire, the ABC is a part of our national fabric.

"That's why Labor will stand up for the ABC and fight against the conservatives' ideological war against our public broadcaster."

When defending the cuts, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann noted the ABC would still receive $3.2 billion over that three-year period.

He also noted other media organisations had had to find savings in recent years.

"Nearly all other government-funded, taxpayer-funded organisations have to find productivity improvements and operation efficiencies," Senator Cormann said.

In May, Mr Shorten said the ABC was one of the, "pet hates of the right wing of the Liberal Party", suggesting the funding decision may have been politically motivated.

When the indexation freeze was announced last month, ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie said she was "disappointed and concerned" the Government appeared to be overlooking efficiencies delivered over previous years.


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