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Byron Shire
May 6, 2021

Funding choices

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Jim Rose, Mullumbimby 

‘The ABC is [officially] on the endangered list’  – so began, with dramatic exaggeration, a recent Soapbox in The Echo (1 July) – a wonderful revelation of the capacity for the use of loaded language.

The ABC is given (not, be it noted, earns) over $1 billion per year. It is thus a pensioner (some pension, eh!), not a wage earner. Like all pensions, it should cut its suit to match its cloth.

The ABC is not suffering ‘cuts’, or even a ‘freeze’; it is receiving more money each year (not as much as it had hoped for). No money has been taken from what it had. A cut is a reduction in what one has, such that one is left with less than one had before. This is defiantly not the case with the ABC.

Consider some figures: in 2018/19 the ABC was given (did not earn) 1,046 million taxpayers dollars; in 2019/20 the ABC was given (did not earn) 1,062m taxpayer dollars (an extra $16m). This financial year the ABC will be given (not earn) $1,065m taxpayers dollars (an extra $3m); in the next financial year it will be given (not earn) an extra five million taxpayer dollars, a total of 1,070m.

When I started school, admittedly over 75 years ago, such figures would have mandated that I consider using the word ‘increase’.

The problem at the ABC could be seen as a result of the spending of other people’s money on something else, where value and cost becomes a matter of ‘who cares?’.

In any case, as is evident by the figures above, anyone who uses the word ‘cut’ is either wilfully ignorant, shamefully dishonest, or confoundedly stupid.

Ed note: The Australian Defence Force was given (did not earn) $38.7 billion of taxpayers dollars in 2019/20.

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14 COMMENTS

  1. Jim, I don’r know why but I get the impression you would rather not see the ABC funded at all but I’m sure like me you value an open, fair and participatory democracy.

    A vital ingredient to any such democracy is a free press. I would therefore think that in fulfilling that role, a national broadcaster well and truly ‘earns’ the funding it receives. You might argue that the work of a publicly funded press can be provided by private outlets but this attitude is becoming increasingly problematic:

    *Private media editorial output comes to you courtesy of billionaire owners and is so concentrated in this country, so influential that our political classes quake. Private media is also beholden to their corporate advertisers.

    *With the economic pressures of pandemics and the digital age greatly impacting on much of the print media it is surely vital that we fund an alternative to the worst effects of the largely chaotic, unregulated and unaccountable outlets of social media.

    *The public broadcaster also has an important role in fostering the local film, music and other creative industries. You may not be so concerned with this but I think it’s important to have strong local voices telling our stories both at home and abroad and somehow I don’t think Master Chef or The Bachelor quite cut it. Life without the arts is pretty dreary and unquestioning.

    I don’t pretend to be completely across the budgetary complexities that have led a wide range of commentators to pronounce that these are effective cuts, but I know raw figures like you quote are great fodder for political disingenuousness. Unemployment benefits are indexed twice a year but I don’t think many believe that that makes it any easier to survive on around (pre pandemic) $40 a day.

  2. Liz it would seem as though you are a educated
    Person !! Surely you can see the self indulgence
    From the National Broadcaster on this freezing
    Of funds .. seriously Liz how many 100s of thousands have lost there jobs or business?
    In the past 6 months? knowone including the ABC
    Should be blaming the Government, they had to
    Act upon the thousands of complaints regarding
    The Bias , the PC , that exists within this Publicly
    Funded organization.. Liz the ABC covers more
    Of American Politics then our own, especially
    Trump .. it is embarrassing… !! The coverage of the BLM rallies or should i say carnage !! The looting , the destruction of other African American
    Business, the ABCs response to such violence
    Oh they were peaceful protests !! And condoned
    The defunding of the Police force.. come on Liz
    The ABC needs a clean out ..

  3. Barrow, you need to make up your mind. What exactly is your reason for saying the cuts are justified:
    a) because 100 of thousands have lost their jobs or businesses or
    b) because the ABC is biased
    c) because the ABC is PC
    d) because it covers foreign news? or
    c) all of the above?

    I might agree that government funding could do with some reprioritising in this crisis if it weren’t for the fact that the ABC funding has already been so decimated as to seriously jeopardise its proper functioning. You also haven’t bothered to address the points I made on the importance of an independently funded public broadcaster. If you read them you would understand that I see the ABC as more than a frivolous add-on to society (particularly in times of crisis) and well worthy of a viable level of funding.

    Our Government (thankfully) also seems to be following the economic doctrine that when the private sector contracts is not the time for Government to do likewise but rather act to fill the gap to maintain economic activity and stimulus. To single out the ABC for a different approach seems to suggest the economic crisis is being used to destroy an old enemy – scrutiny.

    We’re never going to agree on the bias or otherwise of the ABC but there is at least a charter and avenues of complaint which are more sensible tools than extermination of the whole concept of an independent voice.

    PC? I hate this term – it’s an easy, lazy alternative to actually engaging with the merits of the example at hand. It’s also often a way to deflect blame from real insensitivity and bigotry. US news? I watch the ABC all the time and this suggestion confounds me. I haven’t noticed but I’m unconcerned if the ABC takes us beyond our parochial boundaries.

    In any case, cutting funding is not an appropriate Government response to ‘complaints’. It has responsibilities to maintain the quality of vital public services not just exterminate them. Would it likewise be appropriate for them to starve public schools and hospitals of funds because of complaints?

    Barrow I have a couple of suggestions. When you see the letters ‘ABC‘ actually try to engage with the material before you, rather than let it trigger a reflex rant. But mostly, I’d suggest just stop watching, listening to or reading the ABC – it seems to be having a really bad effect on your psychological wellbeing. Stay well!

  4. Thanks for your balanced reply liz ! I actually enjoy
    Watching the ABC liz and have some great
    Programs .. however liz it is not Taxpayer’s
    Expectations that the ABC send activist reporters
    All over the world apparently to seek any info that would implicate Mr Trump in the Russian Collusion.
    Millions it cost liz .. what was the outcome of this
    Investigation ? Not one piece of evidence
    Was put forward to the taxpayer’s for any justification in the pursuit of such nonsense..
    On the ABCs website it advertises that if you have been racially abused we will follow it up !!
    Value for money Liz ..? The ABC have lost touch with Mainstream Australia… move the head quarters to the Western Suburbs of Sydney
    And see our most people live .. “anyway those are my opinions if you dont like those i have others ”
    And your comments are educated liz !!

  5. When is a cut not a cut? Answer, when the Coalition spin doctors manage to convince the more gullible in the community who are seemingly blissfully happy voting for them. Of course it’s always the noisy minority who make the loudest noise, the ABC continues to enjoy the overwhelming support of the Australian public and probably always will. Ridiculous letters from the usual suspects who constantly knock our national broadcaster are obviously written by people who are suffering symptoms from overexposure to logically impaired obscure programs and their presenters, like Sky News after dark. Try telling the survivors of the unprecedented bushfires that Australians endured during last summer that the ABC. didn’t earn its keep. There is also a minority view that the Govt. shouldn’t be spending billions of dollars on defence, that view is about as stupid as thinking the Govt. should not be spending adequate tax-payer funds on an essential service like “our” ABC.

  6. Spoken like a true Greens leader Keith ..
    Keith i vote at every election for the Party that will
    Take Australia forward for the next three years
    And that party was certainly not the Labor – Greens
    Coalition and for good reason Keith … so as a labor voter for 20 years, if your party do not come back to the Centre and support the Workers again
    And back of from this climate change nonsense
    You Keith and your like minded members and ministers will find yourselves in opposition for
    Decades… and the same advice for the Bias ABC
    Leah sails interview last night with the Prime Minister… need i say more !!!

  7. You are spin-doctoring once again Barrow without
    having a clue of the how & why of basically all
    things that have an ABC attachment. It’s not the
    TAB. The FBI. ASIO. No, not even the mumbling
    of how to bake a chocolate cake. Intelligent
    interviews & all the rest to match the BBC’s best
    are worth nix as well, I guess. Truth is, you just
    don’t like what the rest of the country needs &
    that’s that. The ABC is ‘free press’ – no gossip!
    It’s an ‘EARNER’ not a taker. Quality, not crap.

  8. “Earner not a Taker” , you are implying that the ABC infact return some of the taxpayer’s
    Shareholders, investments with a profit
    Stefanie ? Cant remember Management
    From the ABC sending me a dividend
    Or as you put it Stefanie a EARNER ?
    Your unconscious bias has disconnected
    You from what the Majority think about the ABCs
    Value for Buck !!! Most of those free press reporters
    Have been brainwashed, indoctrinated to dislike
    Conservatism… that would form part of their
    Employment… end of story !!

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