Ed Davis: Why we are campaigning in 2019
Ed Davis, NSW & ACT President and National Vice-President, ABC Friends
The ABC: Dave Sharma doesn’t get it
Dave Sharma, the Liberal Party’s candidate for Wentworth, has demonstrated a seriously deficient understanding of the role of public broadcasting and the current plight of the ABC.
In a recent Candidates’ Forum in Wentworth (at UNSW on 14 April), he appeared to refer to the ABC as a ‘state broadcaster’. To be clear. State broadcasters are controlled by governments; they are mouthpieces for government and they brook no criticism. Think of China’s state media or North Korea. The beauty of public broadcasters is that they are independent. The ABC is established by an Act of Parliament. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983 refers to the ABC as “an independent national broadcasting service” (S.6, 2 iii); the duty of the Board is “to maintain the independence and integrity of the organisation” (s. 8 1 b).
The interest of public broadcasters is the public interest. At least part of their role is to hold powerful organisations, including political parties in and out of office, to account. Programs like the ABC’s 4 Corners shine a light into dark corners. The role of strong and independent public broadcasting is invaluable to democracy; citizens can expect to access accurate and impartial news about what is happening.
The crucial importance of public broadcasting is reflected in the recent conclusions of a British House of Commons Committee on Disinformation and Fake News:
“We are facing nothing less than a crisis in our democracy-based on the systematic manipulation of data to support the relentless targeting of citizens, without their consent, by campaigns of disinformation and messages of hate” (Damian Collins, MP, Chair of Committee, 29 July 2018).
Well-funded, strong and independent public broadcasting has never been more important.
Dave Sharma, in his comments at the forum, indicated that he agreed with the $84m cuts, announced in the 2018 federal budget and now about to take effect. Perhaps he is unaware that the ABC has suffered around $500m in cuts since the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government came to office. Many will remember the promise of Tony Abbott, that there would be “No cuts to the ABC; No cuts to SBS” (6 September 2013). The ABC’s budget is around $1b pa. This supports national, capital city and regional radio networks; digital radio and Radio Australia; four TV channels and major online activities including ABC News Digital, iview and streaming. The government inflicted cuts since 2014 have seen a raft of programs dismantled. Lateline and Stateline have gone; ABC TV production in Brisbane, Hobart, Adelaide and Perth has been closed. ABC drama has been slashed. Radio news and current affairs has been defunded, staff slashed and broadcast time reduced. 1000 jobs have gone; approximately a quarter of the ABC’s staff.
Those opposed to the ABC have pointed to the expense of the ABC at $1b pa. Put this in the context of the value that it provides and its standing in Australia as one of the most trusted institutions in the country. Consider that the ABC represents just 0.2% of all government expenditure. Bear in mind that the daily cost of the ABC per head is around 11 cents per day. The cost of a coffee is around $3. It is hard to sustain a serious argument that the ABC costs too much.
My appeal to all candidates, across all parties, is that they should pledge their support for a well-funded, strong and independent ABC.
Professor Ed Davis, AM, National Vice President ABC Friends; firstname.lastname@example.org
The interest of public broadcasters is the public interest.
Programs like the ABC’s 4 Corners shine a light into dark corners.
Who wants to privatise the ABC?
The Institute of Public Affairs has a not-so-secret agenda to privatise the ABC. ABC Friends National President, Margaret Reynolds, responds.
THE PRIME MINISTER MUST REPUDIATE THE INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS MANIFESTO WHICH DEMANDS SALE OF THE ABC
The Prime Minister Scott Morrison must immediately pledge support for public broadcasting now and in the future - and instruct all Coalition candidates that privatisation of the ABC is NOT his policy.
Since the Liberal Party National Council overwhelmingly supported a motion to privatise the ABC in June 2018, no one from his Cabinet has stated their determination to change that policy position nor that the Liberal Party will not pursue this decision if returned to government.
Now that the IPA has put its conservative manifesto back on the election agenda, it is essential that Scott Morrison commits the Coalition to supporting properly-funded, independent Australian public broadcasting.
Already both Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Greens Leader Richard de Natale have pledged their support and made announcements of additional funding for the ABC. Independents like Andrew Wilkie, Rebekah Sharkie, Tim Storer and Kerryn Phelps have been strong advocates for the ABC in the federal parliament.
Voters must know if a vote for a Coalition candidate will lead to destruction of the ABC. A clear commitment is required from the Government.
ABC Friends is working in marginal seats around Australia urging voters to “VOTE FOR THE CANDIDATE YOU TRUST WITH YOUR ABC”
ABC FRIENDS NATIONAL
Margaret Reynolds,National President ABC Friends
Voters must know if a vote for a Coalition candidate will lead to destruction of the ABC.
A clear commitment is required from the Government.
ABC FRIENDS NSW: 2019 FEDERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN
A Message from NSW & ACT President, Ed Davis
18 MAY - THE ELECTION IS ON!
Help us campaign to save the ABC.
Across Australia ABC Friends are targeting marginal seats urging voters to choose candidates who support a well-funded, strong and independent ABC.
ABC Friends NSW & ACT has an exciting new campaign website and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/abcfriendsnsw/) and we have already started working in marginal seats: Reid, Wentworth and Banks (Sydney); Macquarie and Lindsay (Blue Mountains Branch); New England (Armidale Branch); Page and Richmond (Northern Rivers Branch); Robertson and Dobell (Central Coast Branch). ABC Friends(ACT & Region) are active in Gilmore, Eden-Monaro and Canberra.
Urgent call to action – can you help us?
Thanks to everyone who has already volunteered. We need more people on board.
1. Can you help before and/or on Polling Day? We will need people to hand out flyers at key places; to go to market stalls and candidate forums and to hand out ‘How To Vote for the ABC’ cards during polling. Please contact Sybille (email@example.com or 0423-690-838) with your details and availability.
2. Visit our new Facebook page: like it, share it with your friends and family and please comment and click ‘like’ on the posts you like, to help us spread our message during the campaign.
3. If you have a prominent front fence or other place where you could hang an ABC Friends corflute sign supporting the ABC, we have a range of images which are available for downloading here. You can have one made yourself using Officeworks or other printshop. Otherwise, an order can be placed with Sybille at firstname.lastname@example.org .
This is a crucial election for the future of our ABC. Please join us.
Please get involved and consider donating to our crowd-funding appeal.
Donated funds are paying for election flyers and how-to-vote cards, T-shirts, corflutes, advertising, billboards and more!
And, do let us know your feedback on our new campaign website.
Very best wishes
Emeritus Professor Ed Davis AM
President, ABC Friends NSW & ACT
Vice-President, ABC Friends National
To donate to the cause you may do so right here
Dr Kerryn Phelps, Independent Member for Wentworth, Michael Lynch, senior Arts Administrator, and Ed Davis, NSW Friends
ABC Friends at our first campaign market stall in Wentworth Thanks to Meredith, Cleo, Catherine, Marlene, Sue, and Sybille