Coalition Budget Cuts Cost ABC Half a Billion Dollars, 640 Jobs

New figures reveal ABC funding has been cut by $526 million since the Coalition took office, with 640 jobs lost. The figures were obtained from the ABC which was asked to provide details on ‘budget reductions’ since the Coalition Government’s first budget in 2013/14, in a QoN at Senate Estimates.

Polling from the Australia Institute’s Democracy & Accountability Program also finds Australians want ABC’s funding restored and agree the ABC is critical to Australian democracy.

Key Findings:

  • The total ABC budget has been cut by $512 million over eight years, plus an additional $14 million in “return of capital”.
  • The single largest budget reduction to date, of $106 million, came in the current financial year (2021/22)
  • Even after the indexation pause ends, it will continue to cost the ABC over $40 million a year due to the reduced funding base
  • The ABC has lost 640 jobs, with staffing levels have fallen from 4,704 to 4,064 over the period
  • 147 jobs were lost as a result of the 2019–2022 indexation pause
  • In addition to staff cuts, the ABC’s savings have come from discontinuing the 7:45am radio news bulletin, reducing spending on independent production and discontinuing ABC Life.

New polling finds:

  • The majority of Australians (52%) support restoring the $84 million cut from the ABC over the last three-year cycle, over twice as many as those who oppose (25%).
  • More than six in ten Australians (61%) agree that a strong, independent ABC is critical to a healthy democracy, only 19% disagree.

“Australians depend on the ABC for quality news reporting, emergency broadcasting and documentaries, drama and comedy that tell Australian stories,” said Bill Browne, senior researcher in the Australia Institute’s democracy & accountability program.

“Australia Institute polling shows most Australians want $84 million in cut funding restored to the ABC, and agree that a strong, independent ABC is critical to a healthy democracy.

“Cuts to the ABC undermine its truth-telling mission, cost hundreds of people their jobs and mean Australians miss out on quality broadcasting.

“The ABC is an essential part of Australia’s democracy and accountability infrastructure.

“The government could start by restoring and increasing ABC funding for its next three-year funding cycle, coming in July.”

ABC Question on Notice no.100 is available to download here.

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