The ABC & your MP

Published:

A new report called ABC's emergency bushfire broadcasts nothing short of 'lifesaving'.1

ABC alerts were used by millions of Australians, all trying to stay safe during the fires.2 Radio broadcasts helped families evacuate when mobile towers were down. TV crews braved fire-swept highways to update communities. One reporter held a woman in his arms as she waited to see if her home remained.

But the funding is running out.3 Decades of cuts run deep. Programmes face the same fate as Lateline. Another 200 jobs are on the line: regional reporters, technicians, writers.4 And after this prolonged and unprecedented bushfire season, the emergency broadcasting budget is running dry -- the latest symptom of a depleted ABC.

And yet many MPs, just like us, relied on ABC broadcasts for the safety of their own families and homes, or for updates on the unfolding crisis. They know firsthand the vital role played by the alerts in keeping people safe - through bushfires, floods, disasters and storms.

But unless they hear from us they won't be forced to reckon with the consequences of decades of cuts to our ABC. And they won't take it back to the party room.

Can you send your MP a message to ensure our ABC is fully funded?

Drastic underfunding of the ABC is just another symptom of the Government's lack of preparation for a changing climate.

It's the consequence of a Morrison Government controlled by a faction living in denial about climate change and its consequences. Morrison refused to meet with fire chiefs before the bushfire season, despite them asking for 'months'.5 He refused more bushfire assistance, saying firefighters 'wanted to be there'. 6 Dutton buried warnings by his own Department that inaction on climate will put lives at risk.7

And they slashed the funding of the national broadcaster that helps keep life and property safe in the face of fiercer and longer bushfires and other climate disasters.

Email your MP now to demand funding for the ABC in the face of an uncertain future.

A spokesperson said the ABC 'will always prioritise coverage of emergency information'. Why? Because they have a commitment to Australian communities that they take seriously.

But emergency broadcasting events are on track to double in 2020. With the ABC still grappling with last year's $83.8m cut from the Morrison Government - forcing them to face cutting 200 jobs8 - we have to ask ourselves: what will it cost?

Will Four Corners cut more episodes? Will regional radio stations be closed down? Will children's education experts be sacked from kids TV?

Because with emergency broadcasting coming out of an already weakened budget, and natural crises increasing in both frequency and intensity, something will have to give.

Can you send your MP the message that to attack the ABC is to put communities at risk?

Yours in solidarity,

Alix, Tosca, Patrick and Justine for the GetUp team

References:
[1] ABC's coverage of the Australian bushfires, Public Media Alliance, 10 January 2020
[2] ibid.
[3] ABC under 'growing' cost pressure as bushfire emergency broadcasts surge, The Sydney Morning Herald, 3 January 2020
[4] ABC to grapple with budget freeze, 200 redundancies expected, The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 December 2019
[5] Former fire chiefs 'tried to warn Scott Morrison' to bring in more water-bombers ahead of horror bushfire season, ABC, 15 November 2019
[6] Scott Morrison rejects calls for more bushfire help, saying volunteer firefighters 'want to be there', The Guardian, 10 December 2019
[7] Government buried climate risk action plan, Australian Financial review, 11 January 2020
[8] ABC to grapple with budget freeze, 200 redundancies expected, The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 December 2019
 
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