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Byron Shire
April 14, 2021

Friends to rally in Lismore to save ABC

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Supporters of the ABC are planning a rally outside the Lismore studios on Thursday.

Friends of the ABC northern rivers branch president Dr Richard Gates said the ‘show of support for staff of the ABC’ would be protesting against budget cuts and staff losses.

‘Despite a promise from the prime minister before the federal election last year that there would be ‘no cuts to the ABC or SBS’, the ABC has already suffered a $35 million loss in the May budget, and loss of the Australia Network contract worth many millions of dollars per year,’ Dr Gates said.

‘Staff losses are part of the consequence of the budget cuts as well as changes to programs and programming with state-based 7:30 Reports now under threat. ‘

Dr Gates said further cuts of between $200 and $300 million were predicted in the mid-year budgetary review to be released shortly.

‘It is important that we show publicly our support for the ABC and particularly its staff who will inevitably be affected by the cuts,’ Dr Gates said.

‘Despite strong public support for the ABC as shown by various surveys the current government seems “hell bent” on taking apart one of Australia’s important and iconic public institutions.”

‘The cuts and the secrecy surrounding the cuts must stop.

‘We need to show the government and ABC staff we care about our ABC and the important services it provides our community.’

The rally will take place outside the Lismore ABC studios at 61 High Street, Lismore Heights, between 8am and 9am on Thursday.

Federal Labor has warned the ‘guts are about to be ripped out of the ABC’.

Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull says the national broadcaster will face five per cent cuts over five years.

He denies the government is breaking an election promise and maintains savings can be found from administration cuts rather than cuts to programming.

But opposition communications spokesman Jason Clare has accused Mr Turnbull of weasel words.

‘They’re cutting the guts out of the ABC,’ he told ABC TV on Tuesday.

‘Julia Gillard was crucified for breaking one promise. Tony Abbott is a serial offender, he’s broken every promise he made before the election.’

Mr Clare said any savings from back office efficiencies should be channelled back into the ABC to invest in programs and content.

Media Watch reported on Monday night that 400-500 jobs will go at the broadcaster by the end of the year.

It said state versions of 7.30 will face the axe, along with a scaling back of Lateline and closures of ABC bureaus in Bangkok, New Delhi, Tokyo and New Zealand.

Mr Turnbull flagged he would have more to say on the matter later this week.

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