HON. WAYNE SWAN MP
FEDERAL MEMBER FOR LILLEY
CONSTITUENCY STATEMENT (ABC AND SBS)
FEDERATION CHAMBER, CANBERRA
THURSDAY, 27 NOVEMBER 2014
***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***
It was the night before the election and Mr Abbott looked down the barrel of the SBS camera and told the Australian people there would be no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no changes to pensions and no changes to the ABC and the SBS. In January we had Mr Abbott make the contemptible claim that the ABC:
… takes everyone's side but Australia's.
In May we had Mr Abbott break the promises on pensions, health and education and, at the same time, announce cuts of $43.5 million over four years from the base funding of the ABC and the SBS, as well as cancelling the contract for the Australia Network, valued at $220 million over 10 years.
But, of course, the hatred of the ABC did not stop back at the budget. Last week the final assault on the ABC began. The government announced that, all up, they would be cutting the ABC's budget by $254 million over the next five years. Why would the Prime Minister—a man who has staked more on telling the truth than any other politician in Australian history—cut funding to the ABC and SBS, given that he already had a very large box set of broken promises? It is because the ABC is one of those institutions that this government, with its right-wing, Tea Party agenda, has always loathed—and we have just heard it in the comments from the member for Bass—because the ABC is the voice of the middle ground. It is the voice of the ordinary Australian.
It is one of the most successful and popular broadcasters and public institutions in our country. Therefore, it is a threat to the government politically and it is a threat to the commercial interests that back the government. It is a threat to those interests that protected the government for three years before the election and protected it every day in the tabloid newspapers of the Murdoch press, running a protection racket for the government. The ABC is a threat to that. So, to repay these commercial interests and to protect its political stance, it is out there trying to muzzle and silence the SBS and the ABC.
More than anything, the Abbott government is driven by hatred and driven by revenge: a hatred of the ABC, a hatred of universal health and education and a hatred of our social and industrial safety net. The ABC must be silenced because the commercial interests that back this government do not want an independent voice where Australians can put their views fiercely and fairly. The need for a fair go in Australia is opposed by the Abbott government. It has got a viciously unfair agenda. It needs to muzzle the ABC because its political interests are served—and those of its masters are served—by not having an independent public broadcaster and a voice for the people.