Before last year’s election Tony Abbott looked down the barrel of a camera and solemnly promised that there would be no cuts to the ABC. We now hear that his government will cut $50 million a year from this treasured national institution. Over 400 staff members – almost 10 per cent of the ABC’s total workforce – are likely to be made redundant as a result of this cut. Local production will cease in Adelaide, and regional radio in communities like Geelong will be dramatically cut back.
The ABC is too important to let Tony Abbott cut it to shreds. We cannot let this government run down our national broadcaster without a fight.
In fact, the ABC’s contributions to Australian public life are so vast that it is possible to defend it based entirely on the titles of ABC programs. Here goes:
With its Insiders, Hindsight and Future Tense, our ABC is Absolutely Fabulous.
Its Sleek Geeks explore the Four Corners of the Australian Story, looking Behind the News and becoming the Catalyst for change. Thanks to its Strange Calls and Librarians, it keeps Order in the House. It is Australia’s Message Stick.
Now, the Hollowmen have begun their Media Watch. They have taken a Rake to Gardening Australia. Lateline will be Breaking Bad. 7.30 is in the Junkyard Wars. The Health Report may be soon asking ‘Doctor Who?’. They want to turn our Asia Pacific Focus into Little Britain.
It is as though the institution has beenLaid in a Bed of Roses (ouch!) The Background Briefings say that we will Encounter the League of Super Evil. Mal.com says Captain Flamingo has been telling Private Lies on the Bush Telegraph. They have told porkies about Peppa Pig.
They believe the Science Show is All in the Mind. That a Counterpoint is mere Spics and Specs. That Books and Arts are only for Collectors. By Design, they want to turn the ABC into a Very Small Business.
In (m)iView, we must object. We say Life Matters. They are Off Track. Life is not just about The Bill and Inside Business. It is Poetica, At the Movies, and Big Ideas that take us Awaye!
In the AM and PM, we must ask Q andget A. They will Encounter ourConversations.
We will not be the Silent Witness to a display of How Not to Live Your Life from these Chop Socky Chooks, these Wannabes, these Gruffalos, these Steam Punks, these Ha Ha Haries, these Misery Guts. We will Hustle, we will be Rated A for Awesome. We will be the Unbeatable Banzuke! We will fight for our ABC.
This is an edited version of a speech delivered at the Save our ABC rally in Canberra.