ABC Friends and ABC Alumni leaders have made a flying, combined visit to Canberra to talk to key decision-makers about future ABC funding.
The visit was part of a new joint campaign in the lead up the May Budget and the five-year funding agreement promised by the Albanese Government.
The campaign is based around Rebuilding the ABC, a new campaign document put together by ABC Alumni directors Alan Sunderland and Quentin Dempster, with analysis from former ABC executive Michael Ward.
ABC Friends President Cassandra Parkinson and Vice-President Michael Henry joined Alumni leaders, Quentin Dempster and Jonathan Holmes, to take the campaign’s key messages to Government, opposition and cross-bench MPs.
The group met with Minister for Communications, Michelle Rowland, a member of the Albanese Government’s Expenditure Review Committee, and recently appointed Shadow Minister for Communications, David Coleman, who will be responsible for developing a new Liberal Party Communications policy.
A further meeting was held with lower house MPs Zoe Daniel, Allegra Spender, Dr Monique Ryan, and Rebekha Sharkie (pictured below), along with and advisors representing Andrew Wilkie and several independent MPs.
Meeting with lower house independents. L-R: Rebekha Sharkie (Mayo, SA), Alumni’s Jonathan Holmes, Allegra Spender (Wentworth, NSW), Alumni’s Quentin Dempster, Zoe Daniel (Goldstein, Vic), ABC Friends’ Michael Henry and Cassandra Parkinson, and Dr Monique Ryan (Kooyong, Vic).
Jonathan Holmes and Quentin Dempster also met with independent Senator David Pocock.
During each meeting, the Alumni-Friends delegation presented details of ABC financial cuts and their impacts, where extra funds are needed and the urgency of influencing the Budget.
The group also raised its shared concerns that while Albanese Government funding changes have started to claw back some ground lost under the Coalition, there is still a lot more needed to ensure that the ABC is sufficiently funded.
Jonathan Holmes said he believed that everyone the group met with “took on the message that ABC funding isn’t where it needs to be for the next 5 years”, with Minister Rowland committing to look into if an efficiency dividend will be demanded and whether indexation will match inflation.
She also said that she understood that she understood that the ABC’s operating budget remains $40 million less, going forward, than it would have been without the Coalition’s indexation freeze.
ABC Friends Victoria President and National Vice-President, Michael Henry, said that the trip had been a “very successful visit and very useful groundwork for influencing government and opposition policy”.
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