CPSU slams new government threat to ABC, SBS

October 28, 2017

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has called on federal MPs and senators to reject new legislation tabled by federal Communications Minister Mitch Fifield, which is aimed at further undermining the independence and integrity of the national broadcasters ABC and SBS.

Fifield’s legislation would make entirely unnecessary amendments to the ABC Charter about regional media coverage and "fair and balanced" news reporting. He has also continued to demand that the ABC and SBS disclose the salaries of senior staff and has reaffirmed plans for his department to conduct an inquiry into the ABC and SBS's "competitive neutrality".

CPSU ABC Section secretary Sinddy Ealy said on October 19: "These pieces of legislation are a fresh reminder that Minister Mitch Fifield and the Turnbull government are not to be trusted with Australia's public broadcasting system. The changes being pushed here are designed to undermine the ABC and SBS, because that's what [Pauline Hanson's] One Nation and the commercial media outlets want.

"Independent inquiry after independent inquiry has established that ABC reporting is impartial and unbiased. Yet a tiny group of self-interested people continue to peddle the notion that they are somehow not being given enough air time on the ABC. The real purpose of this legislation is to give these people another stick to beat the ABC over the head with.

"The CPSU welcomes the support that's already been shown in parliament, with Labor and crossbenchers Jacqui Lambie, Derry Hinch, Lucy Gichuhi and the Nick Xenophon Team supporting an Australian Greens motion in support of the ABC and SBS, and making it clear they would not support the Turnbull government's proposed changes.

"This legislation is by no means the Turnbull government's first attack on our national broadcasters. Harsh cuts have slashed hundreds of jobs in recent years, but hardworking staff at the ABC and SBS are continuing their critical work providing quality news and other programming for all Australians."

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