Press Conference – Sydney






SUBJECT/S: Cuts to the ABC; Tony Abbott’s broken promises.

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Last night Malcolm Turnbull confirmed more cuts to the ABC and SBS. This just proves again, Tony Abbott is a liar.

The night before the election he said that there would be no cuts to the ABC and no cuts to SBS. Well, this is a broken promise. It is rolled gold broken promise. It is a half a billion dollar broken promise. But it’s not the only one. The Prime Minister is a serial offender because the night before the election, he said there would be no cuts to health. He said there would be no cuts to education. He said there would be no changes to the pension, no cuts to the ABC and no cuts to SBS.

Since then, he has cut health, he has cut education, he’s cut indexation of the pension, now he is cutting the ABC and cutting SBS. This has now become an issue of trust. Can you trust what the Prime Minister says? The only thing you can trust is that Tony Abbott will break his promises.

Happy to take some questions.

JOURNALIST: Don’t politicians in power have to adjust their actions according to the circumstances that face them? Aren’t they just fixing up the Budget, what they claim is Labor’s mess?

CLARE: It is a good question but the point I’d make is Tony Abbott has said this before the election and after the election. After he opened up the books and had a good look he’s confirmed four times that he’d keep his promises. He promised before the election he wouldn’t cut the ABC and he’s confirmed it afterwards. Now he is breaking that promise.

JOURNALIST: Promises aside, shouldn’t the ABC face similar efficiency demands that other (INAUDIBLE).

CLARE: All organisations can be more efficient and the ABC is no exception. In the past, when we were in government, we found efficiencies in the ABC and we used that money to create ABC 24. We also used it to create ABC online. That’s what the Government should do.

What I’m urging the Prime Minister to do is keep his word. And to keep his word he should find efficiencies inside the ABC and use it to create more programs and new services for the Australian people.

JOURNALIST: What are you urging ABC management to do? They are facing this reality and they seem to be heading down the path of cutting programming. Malcolm Turnbull argues that that isn’t necessary. There is other fat that can be trimmed before they cut Lateline and state-based 7:30 etc etc. What do you think about that?

CLARE: Well, this is another broken promise. Malcolm Turnbull said you could just cut back office. Mark Scott said no, that’s not possible. They are connected – the back office and front office are connected. What we see this week is that half a billion dollars worth of cuts to the ABC will mean not just back-office cuts but hundreds of people getting the sack and lots of terrific programs being axed.

JOURNALIST: Where can the money be found? (Inaudible)

CLARE: There are a lot of ways the Government can find additional funding. One would be to scrap their unfair Paid Parental Leave Scheme. That’s going to cost twenty billion dollars over the next four years so that millionaire mums can get paid fifty thousand dollars to have a baby.

They could reverse their position on superannuation taxation changes. When we were in Government, we said if you have more than two million dollars in superannuation and you are making more than one hundred thousand dollars a year in interest on that superannuation, from that point on, it will be taxed at a higher rate. They’ve got rid of that.

They’ve also decided not to proceed with taxation reform for multi-national corporations. This is where the Government should be heading rather than breaking their promises.

The point I want to stress here, it is not just one. This is a conga line of broken promises. Tony Abbott has broken more promises than Pinocchio. If you put him on a lie detector, it would blow up. And that is why people are so upset with this Prime Minister.

JOURNALIST: Is there ideology at play here? (Inaudible)

CLARE: Look, it is no secret that there are a lot of members of the Liberal Party who hate the ABC. I’ve had Liberal members of Parliament tell me they’d like to get rid of it altogether. The risk for the Liberal Party, though, is a lot of people who love the ABC vote Liberal and vote National.

The ABC is the most loved and respected national institution in this country. It is a lot more popular than this Liberal Government is. They need to be very wary of that when they take the axe to the ABC and SBS.

JOURNALIST: On the popularity of this government, the latest Newspoll figure, increasingly in favour of Labor.

CLARE: I think what this shows is people don’t like liars. This Prime Minister has lied. He has told more lies than Pinocchio and people are getting sick of it.

JOURNALIST: Should it be a concern for the Prime Minister at least that it seems the majority of what he has been talking about, at least since MH17 went down, national security, foreign policy issues like that, yet these numbers aren’t improving, they are getting worse?

CLARE: We support the actions the Prime Minister has taken in relation to MH17. Australians, innocent Australians, were slaughtered in the skies above Ukraine. We have worked cooperatively and constructively with the Government in the area of national security, but Australians haven’t forgotten about the budget; they haven’t forgotten about how mean and unfair it is and I think that’s reflected in those numbers.

Okay, thanks very much.