Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (5 March) . . Page.. 569 ..
MRS CROSS (continuing):
I have not focused on the ABC, although I do enjoy watching it from time to time, especially my favourite show, Stateline. The ABC needs to air Greek movies to increase its eclectic viewing audience. This Helen will not, however, be bringing that Paris, aka Mr Hargreaves, any Trojan gifts any time soon, although being wary of crossing this Helen is rather prudent.
MS DUNDAS (5.10): I am delighted to participate in this debate and support the motion moved by Mr Hargreaves. The Australian Democrats are strongly committed to keeping the ABC and SBS independent and fully funded. The ABC and the SBS are vital sources of independent, impartial and, most importantly, Australian news, information and entertainment programs and they must remain strong, free from government interference and fully funded so that they can meet their charters.
I thank Mr Hargreaves for allowing this Assembly to show its support for our national broadcasters as they go cap in hand to the federal government. The ABC's request for triennial funding seeks a small increase on the current base funding and seeks to consolidate the position of the ABC within the Australian community and provide more quality content to more people. The managing director, Russell Balding, said in his media release of January this year, "The days of the ABC doing more with less are over."
Since the Howard government came to office the streamlining of the ABC has continued. Since 1996-97 the ABC has reduced corporate support costs from 13 per cent to 8 per cent of total costs and there have been some highly-publicised workplace reforms through enterprise agreements. Over at SBS, we are hearing that the acclaimed Business Show is having to seek corporate sponsors, which is causing much industrial unrest.
Why should our public broadcasters have to seek corporate support to run their shows? While the SBS does have some advertising, it does provide a special service, particularly to our multicultural Australians who have chosen to make Australia their home, as well as native-born Australians who understand that the world really is a bigger and more diverse place than the American media would suggest.
The ABC is hoping to increase the levels of Australian content in the area of children's and youth programming, something that has been called for by many families, and also to extend the transmission of Triple J to a further 16 regional communities. That is a very important issue on behalf of the ABC, but there are many who live in this broad land of ours who do not even have basic access to the national broadcaster and its national youth network wing, Triple J.
Triple J provides some incredibly important programs to people in regional Australia, including the Haywire program. The initiatives it takes in supporting local, unsigned music groups are an important part of the entertainment and social framework across Australia do need to be supported.
The global trend towards the concentration of media ownership, particularly in Australia, makes the maintenance of our national broadcasters, which are free from government interference and independent of commercial influences, which is even more important. Historically, the ABC and SBS have been significant sources of programming which is independent, innovative and reflects the diversity of cultures in Australia. They are a