ABC Friends News

Growing Support from Cross-Bench: Friends Delegation


[Delegation meets Labor’s Dr Mike Freelander, who donated $1000 to our crowdfunding appeal]


October 12, 2016


In a week where the US Presidential race has demonstrated the necessity of political fact-checking, the resurrecting of the ABC Fact Check unit has dominated conversations this week between cross-benchers and an ABC Friends delegation to Parliament House.

ABC Friends National spokespeople Margaret Reynolds (a former Senator and government minister) and Ranald Macdonald (former Managing Director of The Age), were joined by National Campaign Coordinator Jeff Waters to walk the halls of power this week, to lobby for more funding, financial transparency, and continued editorial independence for the National Broadcaster.

The delegation has specifically targeted cross-bench Senators, and members of the Senate Estimates Committee, which will grill ABC managers next week.

“We have been extremely encouraged by the support we are receiving from almost all of the cross-bench Senators, and independent members of the Lower House,” said Ms Reynolds.

“Many appeared unaware of the extent of ABC cutbacks, and the effects it is having on Australian content.”

“There has, for example been a huge reduction in the production of Australian content for children over the last few years,” she said.

The Australian Children’s Television Foundation recently reported that the ABC children’s programming budget had been cut by more than a third since 2012.

According to a recent academic article published in The Conversation, In 2014 the ABC reduced its children’s local content target from more than 50% to 25%.

ABC Friends National also fears that political pressure may have encouraged the closure of the ABC’s Fact Check unit.

“If ever there was a time this country needed a proper analysis of political claims, it is now,” said Mr Ranald Macdonald.

“Friends also continue to be alarmed by the implications of the loss of the Australia Network.”

“It is not just the projection of the Australian character and image to the Asia Pacific, but also the effect it has had on coverage of news and current affairs from our north on television and also radio Australia,” he said.