ABC Friends News


Ahead of the Batman By-Election on the 17th of March, 2018, ABC Friends National is surveying the candidates, asking them a series of questions about their attitudes to the ABC.

Please revisit this page as answers come in from the candidates.


  1. Will you commit to restoring funding to the ABC, to the 2013 level?
  2. Will you work to guarantee political independence for ABC, particularly its News and Current Affairs services?
  3. Will you lobby the ABC to restore shortwave radio service to Northern Territory and into the Pacific? 
  4. Will you seek a guarantee that the Nomination Panel, which makes recommendations to the government for appointments to the ABC board, will be free of bias and government interference?
  5. If elected, will you join the Parliamentary Friends of the ABC, which currently has more than 50 members?


Ged Kearney (ALP)

1. Labor condemned the cuts to public broadcasting in the 2014 budget, which broke a campaign promise by Tony Abbott. We have consistently defended the crucial role that the ABC plays in Australian life and a Shorten Labor Government will ensure that the ABC is properly resourced to fulfil that role. The specific funding allocation will be set out in the federal budget.
2. Yes, Labor will always uphold the editorial independence of the ABC.
3. Labor condemned the closure of the shortwave service and has urged the Turnbull Government to restore it. Bill Shorten wrote to Malcolm Turnbull stating that we are willing to work with the Government and local stakeholders to help bring this about.
4. Yes, upholding the independence of the ABC requires that the panel be free to do its work without interference by the government of the day.
5. Yes, Ged will join the Parliamentary Friends of the ABC if she is elected as MP for Batman. (As you may be aware, Ged is already a member of your own organisation, the Friends of the ABC).

Debbie Robinson (Australian Liberty Alliance)

1. No. I would work towards reducing the ABC budget to maintain its core functions.
2. Yes, although I believe much work needs to be done to ensure this takes place.
3. I would like to see the ABC’s role as our a global ambassador restored, including a shortwave service

4. Yes, although I believe much trimming needs to be done before this can be ensured.

5. I would need more information about this body before making a commitment.

Alex Bhathal (Greens) 

    Yes, categorically. The ABC performs a vital role in advancing public interest journalism and must be resourced adequately to continue to fulfil this role. The Abbott and Turnbull Government’s budget cuts to our public broadcasters have hindered their operating capacity; it must be restored.

    1. The Australian Greens will work constructively and collaboratively to ensure the ABC’s editorial policy is free from political interference.
    1. Yes.
    1. It is not within the power of the Australian Greens to make this guarantee. We simply can’t guarantee, in good faith, that the picks of the Secretary of PM&C will be the best candidates for the job. The Nomination Panel is appointed by the Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet; it, in turn, makes recommendations for non-executive board members to be appointed by the Minister. For this guarantee to be made, the appointment process must be reformed (to allow for greater parliamentary scrutiny, for example, or to have appointments made by another, independent body). The Australian Greens recognise that the role of the Nomination Panel is a vital one and as such it is important that the community have confidence in the independence of the Panel’s recommendations, decision-making and membership itself. We will work to ensure this confidence is well-placed, earned and sustained.
    1. Yes
Kevin Bailey (Australian Conservatives) – Awaiting response
Catherine Cumming (Derryn Hinch Justice) – Awaiting response