You told us what you wanted – and we told the Government

You told us what you wanted – and we told the Government

We received a strong response to our invitation to members and supporters to have your say about the future of the ABC. And we made sure that our submission to the government’s review reflected your views.

Parliament house at dusk

So, thank you to everyone who participated in our survey and contacted us. It’s pleasing to see such strong interest in this vital issue.

You can read our submission here. It includes the results of our survey so the government can see very clearly the strength of member support for the ABC’s independence and funding certainty.

More than 1500 members completed the survey, with 98% saying that the Government should introduce measures to strengthen the ABC’s independence. Concern about the ABC’s independence is one of the top two issues our members and supporters consistently raise with us.

We called for the ABC Act to be amended to improve transparency of decision-making, oblige Ministers to abide by the legislation, and place more public pressure on Ministers if they attempt to bypass the process.

We further recommended improved processes for making appointments to the ABC Board and reducing conflicts of interest. To guard against partisan appointments, we argued that it should not be possible for the Minister to ignore the recommendations of the Nomination Panel when it presents a shortlist of three candidates.

Member views about the need to guarantee the five year funding terms introduced by the current Government are equally strong, with 80% of survey respondents wanting this certainty enshrined in law.

We know how easy it is for Governments to revoke funding commitments if they have no legal force, so we recommended that the ABC Act be amended to protect the ABC’s base funding in each five year funding term. Before each new five year period, we called for a public review to inform funding decisions for the following five years.

And while the amount of ABC funding was not included in this review, we pointed out that the level of funding has a direct effect on the ABC’s capacity to do its job as an independent public media organisation accessible to all Australians.

Our submission is consistent with the submission made by the ABC Alumni, which represents more than 300 former ABC staff and supporters, including experienced reporters, editors, and senior managers. You can read the ABC Alumni submission here.

Moving forward

Our recommendations will require significant legislative changes. But we’re firmly convinced our proposals will give the ABC greater funding security and more protection against political interference.

The media in Australia and other countries is experiencing a period of profound and difficult change to which public media organisations are not immune. The pressure to respond to budgetary, political and other external pressures is intense.

We’ve recommended the minimum steps needed to guarantee the ABC’s future as an independent public broadcaster that delivers high quality, accessible journalism and entertainment.

The Government’s review is a positive step in achieving our goals, but we must continue to advocate for restoration of the ABC’s budget and greater protections to its independence.