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Return focus to ABC’s funding – Hanson-Young

‘Well done for the Morrison government in giving a $5 million grant to the Australian Associated Press (AAP), but what about the ABC?’ – such was the refrain from Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young on Friday, after federal communications minister Paul Fletcher announced a cash injection for the national newswire.

The AAP, whose future was secured only in June after an eleventh-hour philanthropic move to keep it out of the clutches of mainstream media organisations News Corp and Nine/Fairfax, is now the latest of 93 recipients of government grants that Fletcher’s office has awarded under its Public Interest News Gathering (PING) program since it was announced last May, and would be receiving the funding within the next few weeks, Fletcher said.

However, while Hanson-Young – who holds the portfolio of communications for the Greens – congratulated the AAP for receiving the grant as advocating for the newswire’s support earlier in the week, she also put a degree of focus on restoring funding for public broadcasters ABC and SBS.

“Earlier this week, I called on the Government to ensure the survival of [the] AAP as they consider options for protecting public interest journalism through the ACCC News Media Code. I am glad that after months of uncertainty, the Government has finally come to the table with the support [the] AAP needs,” Hanson-Young said.

Hanson-Young, the Greens’ senator from South Australia who has served her constituents in federal Parliament since 2008, wants to see at least a portion restored of the $783 million in cuts which has occurred under consecutive LNP governments since 2014.



In fact, projections have the current government’s cuts to the ABC could balloon out to as much as $1 billion by the time of the next federal election takes place in 2022 if no action is taken, action which Hanson-Young is pushing for.


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“Another essential component of the Australian news industry is the ABC. To protect public interest journalism in Australia, I call on the Government to stop their relentless attacks on our national broadcaster and include the ABC and SBS in the upcoming legislation for the ACCC News Media Code,” said Hanson-Young.

And while the reading of the federal budget that takes place in a few weeks’ time could have an impact on potential further cuts to the ABC and SBS, Fletcher defended the grant to the AAP as an element within enhancing public interest journalism under the PING program.

“Public interest journalism is important now, more than ever. This $5 million in funding will allow [the] AAP to continue delivering its important news service for communities Australia-wide,” Fletcher said.

“It will also provide the Newswire more opportunities to secure additional private investment to support its long-term sustainability,” he added.

But Hanson-Young would prefer to see the government maintain such actions of support, rather than executing a one-off funding for the AAP newswire, in addition to considering restoring funding to the nation’s public broadcasters.

“While today’s announcement has secured AAP’s short-term future and will assist [the] AAP’s transition to its new not-for-profit model, the newswire service may require the further government support in the future,” said Hanson-Young.

“I urge the Government to consider recurrent funding to ensure the viability of the AAP so it can continue to play an essential role in ensuring that Australia has a strong and diverse public interest journalism industry,” she added.

Moreover, Labor’s shadow communications minister Michelle Rowland also assailed Fletcher’s inaction to give financial support to the AAP, given that the newswire had originally announced its winding-up plans in March.

“Federal funding to support [the] AAP is a no-brainer and should have been done months ago. Why has it taken this [government] months to support this vital news service? Why is it so hard for this [government] to do the right thing at the right time?” Rowland tweeted on Friday afternoon.

However, Fletcher and Hanson-Young do agree that any financial aid to the AAP allows them to focus on providing news and information to local and regional communities.

“Importantly, [the] AAP also provides regional stories for national distribution so that regional issues and voices are heard across the country,” said Fletcher.

“The current pandemic has shown us how important it is to have local and regional news. AAP is an essential part of making sure that all Australian communities have access to local news,” said Hanson-Young.

Hanson-Young also said that the AAP newswire possesses a great value to all forms of media, and not just local and regional newspapers and the mastheads which Fletcher singles out.

“[The] AAP is key media infrastructure that helps new players into the market and diversity across Australia’s media landscape. Allowing [the] AAP to collapse would entrench the power of big media companies, NewsCorp and Nine and lock out smaller and new players in the industry,” she said.

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  1. New England Cocky

    Why is the COALiiton misgovernment subsidising the Murdoch Media-ocracy in a capitalist society where government funding is allegedly not required in a market economy?? Oops!! Silly me!! ….. That was not subsidies gifted to MM, rather it was the purchasing of favourable editorial comment from a loud widely read minor media player greedy to put his snout into the Allowances trough along with his COALiiton Parliamentary mates. Well ….. you have to look after your billionaire mates before Australian voters … right???

  2. corvusboreus

    In terms of core issue covered within the article, when posed with the dichotomy of whether I prefer the view of
    a) The SA Greens senator who sees value in retaining /restoring funding for a national broadcaster with regulations specifying local educational and informational (+entertainment) content with all journalism conducted under an enforceable charter dictating an adherence of factual impartiality to inform public debate and opinion,
    b) The Liberal HoR member for Hughes, who reckons the ABC should be treated like a failed racehorse, and slaughtered then quartered and flogged off for dogmeat and glue,
    I align with the former.

    However, having said this, I suggest that any future linear ‘graphs’ posted by this author should include an X for the Y to give relevent context to the two jagged lines with the shading in between.
    That way it would look more like an informational graph designed to academically inform and less like a bullet point graphic meme doctored up for Facebook broadcasting by a political staffer working for ‘sarahinthesen8’.
    Just a suggestion.

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