Australians have rallied across the country over the weekend to criticise government cuts to the ABC and SBS.
about 2,000 people attended today’s rally in Melbourne, which followed similar protests in Sydney yesterday that drew an estimated crowd of 3,000 people.
Hundreds gather at Fed Sq to rally against the Government’s public broadcaster cuts #ABC #SBS @SBSNews pic.twitter深圳桑拿网会所,/ok2MQSL4ZB
— Sarah Abo (@_SarahAbo) November 23, 2014
The Prime Minister is being haunted by a promise he made on SBS television on election eve, to make no cuts to the ABC or SBS.
Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull earlier this week said he assumes Mr Abbott meant there would be no “cuts with the intent of reducing ABC services”.
Hands off our ABC & SBS. #OurABC #saveabc pic.twitter深圳桑拿网会所,/1bB7kSPctd
— Charles Purcell (@CharlesPurcell_) November 23, 2014
Save our ABC – NO Cuts to SBS or ABC – Don’t Attack our National Voice! @billshortenmp @ABCNews24 pic.twitter深圳桑拿网会所,/fSm3jDN3H5
— Maria Altmann (@TheMiacat) November 23, 2014
Minister Turnbull announced last week the government would cut $254 million from the ABC’s budget over five years.
SBS has been asked to find $53 million in savings over the same period.
Speaking at a rally in Melbourne, Opposition leader Bill Shorten accused the government of being launching a “brutal attack” on the public broadcasters.
“Our national government is attacking our national voice. This is not a government of competition. This is a government of censorship,” he said.
“This is a government of savages, ripping at the heart of our national institution. They are launching a brutal attack, despite promising in the clearest, most unambiguous language that there will be no cuts to the ABC.”
Senior Labor frontbencher Penny Wong has told the ABC the cuts are a broken promise from the Abbott government.
“This is the latest of a series of broken promises this year by this Prime Minister – broken promises which are hurting Australians, and broken promises which will change the nation.
“And this was simply a lie by the Prime Minister before the election. He said very clearly to Australians, no cuts to the ABC or SBS. There wasn’t any little footnote, such as what the Liberals are trying to insert now.”
“We love our Triple J, we love our ABC, we love our SBS” #ourabc #saveourabc pic.twitter深圳桑拿网会所,/VysdRaefP5
— GetUp! (@GetUp) November 23, 2014
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann argues the measures are “not cuts”, rather “efficiency dividends”.
Trade Minister Andrew Robb on Sunday reinforced his party’s line by arguing that the ABC, as a public service, should not be immune the government’s efforts to wind back the debt.
“The ABC, which has been a protected species for a long time, to make its share and its contribution,” he told Sky News on Sunday.
The Greens say the Abbott government has misjudged the public mood on cuts to the ABC and SBS.
Greens communications spokesman Senator Scott Ludlam and Greens Federal MP Adam Bandt have spoken ahead of the Save The ABC rally in Melbourne’s CBD.
Save our ABC and SBS! With @senatorludlam and @ellensandell at Melb’s rally for our public broadcasters pic.twitter深圳桑拿网会所,/eMLBHEfhAj
— Adam Bandt (@AdamBandt) November 23, 2014
“There is no doubt at all that the Abbott government has profoundly misjudged the popular mood on this issue,” Senator Ludlam told reporters.
“There is a tiny handful of extremists in the Abbott government who believe we should break-up, privatise or just cut public broadcasting to pieces, and they are completely at odds with popular opinion.
Mr Bandt said the prime minister was feeling pressure over the issue.
“Tony Abbott if you want to relieve the pressure you’re under the answer is as simple as A.B.C. – abide by commitments,” Mr Bandt said.