For the past 6 years Margaret Reynolds has been a very effective national President of the ABC Friends; she was also a Queensland Senator from 1983 to 1999. Margaret is now retiring from her presidential position and has sent out the following public letter reminding us of the importance of ABC Friends in the role of public broadcasting for a successful democracy. Thankyou Margaret.
"It’s time for me to retire as ABC Friends National President and I wanted to thank you all for being such supportive members.
It’s been six years since we formally established a national presence for ABC Friends to ensure we communicated with our friends around Australia and kept our focus on our parliamentarians acting in the best interests of public broadcasting and media freedom.
We started out in 2016 with just over 5,000 members and have welcomed so many new ABC Friends members and supporters that our number now stands at over 67,000.
We have campaigned strategically over this time to inform the community about the way the ABC was being undermined through funding cuts, political interference, and its media competitors.
We have lobbied ministers and other parliamentarians and prepared a range of submissions for parliamentary and other inquiries.
We have hosted conferences and election forums to keep the focus on a sustainable, independent ABC.
Our achievements have only been possible because of our wonderful members, like yourself, and your commitment to work with us as we tried to highlight those issues that needed the urgent attention of parliamentarians. As a result, many parliamentarians and candidates for recent election were made well aware that we expected a better deal for our ABC.
You have now elected a new government which has committed to a five year funding model and a South Pacific broadcasting strategy. These are important and welcome initiatives, but ABC Friends needs to continue its strong advocacy role as the ABC faces many other challenges in a global, digital world.
The ABC not only informs and entertains, it is central to our democracy. Fearless investigative journalism is essential in exposing decisions that are not in the national interest and in keeping government accountable to the community.
We also rely on the ABC to provide diverse news reporting and analysis from around Australia and especially our region. We need to avoid some of the repetitive cliches that demonise individuals and countries.
We need more more facts and fewer opinions, more real news and less trivia!
As the ABC approaches its 90th birthday this year, we must all continue to set high standards for our national broadcaster to ensure it protects its long tradition of public service to the Australian people.
Thank you to everyone who has served on the National Committee with me for the last six years -you have worked so hard to guarantee our success.
A new President will be elected at the ABC Friends national AGM later in the year. To my successor and the National Committee, I wish you well in your future planning, and setting new priorities for the years ahead.
I will of course remain an ABC friend working locally with my Tasmanian committee and no doubt occasionally demanding that both the parliament and the ABC do more to strengthen public broadcasting and media freedom!"
(Margaret Reynolds, 28 June, 2022)