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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (5 March) . . Page.. 567 ..

Mr Wood: That many!

MR HARGREAVES: One of the ministers disagrees. There is no doubt that the SBS has delivered quality and innovative programs and services to the Australian public. It deserves our support, Mr Deputy Speaker.

The extra money the ABC and SBS are asking for is not a huge ask. Total funding for the ABC and SBS accounts for around three-quarters of one per cent of the total Commonwealth budget. The federal government can accommodate the modest requests of the ABC and SBS over the next three years. If they do not, it will be a political rather than an economic decision.

I understand that the managing director of the ABC, Russell Balding, has stated that, without the increased funding requested in their submission, the ABC will be forced to cut current programs and services. Do you know what that means, members? You are going to get less for your 8c a day. I reckon that during the bushfire crisis the Canberra community-the shadow minister for emergency services will definitely back me up here-got well over 12c a day from the ABC.

I am concerned that the Canberra content, including television and radio news and current affairs, could be at risk. It would be a tragedy if these fledgling services were to suffer cutbacks or withdrawal. Having lost two commercial TV newsrooms and the Valley View community newspaper and witnessed the merger of radio newsrooms, I do not think the Canberra market could stand any further cutbacks.

The federal government has to realise that the public broadcasters play a major role in our region. They face additional costs in the move to digital broadcasting and multichannelling. They must be funded to meet these costs or something will give. I fear that it will be Canberra programming and Australian content.

In conclusion, the ABC and the SBS deliver a comprehensive and far-reaching media service to all Australians. It is a service that the Australian people value highly and we should show our support for both organisations here. The one beautiful thing about the ABC and the SBS is that they are not for sale, they are not for hire, and they are all-Australian. Let's keep it that way.

MRS CROSS (5.05): I rise to talk about one aspect of Mr Hargreaves' Trojan motion-I mean motion-and that is the importance of multiculturalism in our society and the unique and significant role that the Special Broadcasting Service plays.

I know, Mr Deputy Speaker, that you are a great advocate of multiculturalism in this country. Multiculturalism is not simply the introduction into Australia of people from other countries; it is also the opportunity for Australian-born citizens to have their lives enlightened and enriched by experiencing the culture, language, diversity and perspective of people from around the world, including those from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds. It is this variety that SBS delivers to all of us in the comfort of our very own lounge rooms.

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