No More ABC Cuts Welcome, However, Time to Restore Funding

“The Morrison Government announcement today that there will be no further cuts to the ABC and the indexation freeze on funding will be removed is a welcome one, however, this announcement does nothing to restore the more than half a billion dollars in cumulative funding cuts the ABC has endured since Tony Abbott’s ‘no cuts to the ABC or SBS’ promise. Nor does this announcement restore the 640 jobs lost,” said Bill Browne, senior researcher in the Australia Institute’s Democracy & Accountability Program.

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

Key Points:

  • 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.

Australia Institute 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 during natural disasters and documentaries, drama and comedy that tell Australian stories,” said Bill Browne, senior researcher in the Australia Institute’s Democracy & Accountability Program.

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

“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.”

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