THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
THE HON JASON CLARE MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS
MEMBER FOR BLAXLAND
SUNDAY, 12 JUNE 2016
SUBJECTS: Labor Investment in ABC Splash, Labor’s Positive Plans for the ABC, Liberals’ Broken Promises, Preferences.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks very much for joining us here this afternoon in Newtown. It’s terrific to be here with my colleague, Jason Clare, and with Andrew and Kate, and some other supporters of the Gonski school education funding reforms. Today, we are making a very important announcement about support for a terrific program, the ABC Splash learning resource. This is for young children, from kindergarten, all the way through school up to Year 12. It’s a terrific resource that provides safe, age-appropriate content that supports learning in classrooms. You can see the kids over here are really enjoying using the Splash website looking up the things that interest them. They have been looking up science, technology, engineering and maths subjects, they’ve been looking up things about climate change and reconciliation. The Splash resource, the two websites, one aimed at primary school kids , one aimed at high school kids, provide a whole range of age-appropriate subject matter. One of my favourite areas is the ancient Egypt section and it’s well worth having a look if you’re interested in ancient history. I’m going to hand over to Jason in a moment, to talk about this and the other ABC funding announcements that we’ve made, but it is a great pleasure to be able to say today that we will support this resource, with an extra $9 million over the next 3 years. If Labor wasn’t to commit to this extra funding, we would see the loss of these websites. The ABC has managed to keep them going, despite the very significant funding cuts that we’ve seen up to now, but they cannot keep them going forever. And the real loss here would be Australian content for Australian kids in Australian classrooms. Of course, we can look up overseas content, but it’s just not the same. You wouldn’t see the same understanding of Australia, our his tory, our culture and our society. So having Australian-specific resources for Australian kids, in Australian classrooms – that’s what we’re supporting today.
JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Thanks very much Tanya. When Tanya and I were kids, you could flick on the TV and you’d see Humphrey or see Fat Cat or Play School. Humphrey’s gone, Fat Cat’s gone but Play School is still there. And the ABC today provides so much more than that. We have now got ABC3 for kids, that we set up when we were in government, and all parents will know about the ABC for kids’ iView app which is so popular. But on top of that we’ve also got ABC Splash, which is an online educational resource for teachers, for all Australian teachers, and for kids as well. Now, everyone will remember that before the last election, Tony Abbott said there would be no cuts to health, no cuts to education. He also said there would be no cuts to the ABC. But as we know, after the last election, there were big cuts to health, to education, and to the ABC. And ABC Splash is one of the vic tims of those cuts. It was set up by the Labor Party in government, in 2011, and it’s produced with the support of Education Services Australia, which is owned by the Education Ministers of Australia, provides important content that links into the national curriculum and it’s extremely popular – it’s had over 17 million hits over the last few years. Now as Tanya says, this is now going to be shut down unless we make sure that we fund it into the future. And if it does shut down it means that teachers will be forced to rely on resources from overseas rather than Australia. So if Labor is elected at the next election, we’ll make sure it stays. This is too important a resource for our kids and for our teachers to lose. And that’s why we are announcing today that we will continue to fund this. Now I’ll ask Andrew to say a few words, just to give you an idea about how important this resource is for Australian teachers.
ANDREW, PUBLIC PRIMARY SCHOOL TEACHER: Hi everyone, my name is Andrew and I’m a public primary school teacher here in Sydney. I use ABC Splash in my classroom and I’m so thrilled to hear today that Labor are going to continue to fund this important resource. It’s an excellent digital resource that is bright, colourful and interactive. And it’s so engaging. And as any classroom teacher will tell you, engagement is one of the most fundamental aspects of learning. If kids are engaged, then they are learning. Some of the resources on ABC Splash are just amazing. One of them is a maths resource that teaches Year 4 kids algebra. They can come up to the interactive whiteboard and play with the digital scale, move blocks on and off the scale until they balance it, to find the missing number of an equation. Another one is a digital story book that they can read through and physically change the nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives to make the story more interesting. These are the sorts of programs and resources that will be lost if this funding doesn’t continue so I’m personally thrilled that Labor have announced that they are going to continue to fund Splash.
KATE, TEACHERS FEDERATION: This announcement comes on top of the ALP’s commitment to fund the full Gonski schools funding model in our schools, and we do welcome any additional resources to support the teaching and learning in Australian classrooms.
JOURNALIST: You mention that $20 million was cut out from the ABC in the latest Coalition budget. That obviously affected reporting services and a range of digital services and other platforms. Would Labor consider putting that money back in if it wins government?
PLIBERSEK: A lot more than $20 million was cut out of the ABC, in both the first Coalition budget and more recently. We have seen well over $200 million cut from the ABC. We won’t be able to restore all of that in one go, but we have made some very significant announcements in better funding ABC drama, and in better funding women’s sport and today in retaining this terrific teaching and learning resource. I will ask Jason, in a moment, to go through some of those other announcements.
JOURNALIST: Could you guarantee that Labor would guarantee there will be no further cuts under Labor if it won government – to the ABC, that is?
PLIBERSEK: You can judge us on our record when it comes to the ABC. We gave the ABC the most significant funding resource it’s had to its base funding. We properly funded it when we were in government, we helped it with the transition to the digital environment, and all we’ve seen from the Liberals have been cuts to the ABC. Remember the night before the last election, Tony Abbott said no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no change to pensions, no GST, and he said very clearly, no cuts to the ABC and SBS. And then he cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the ABC and SBS – when Malcolm Turnbull was the Communications Minister, so, Malcolm Turnbull is as responsible for these cuts as anybody else in the Liberal Party.
JOURNALIST: And just speaking on the election there, Ms Plibersek, would you like to publicly thank Prime Minister Turnbull for his intervention to get you re-elected in Sydney?
PLIBERSEK: Well, I think the best contribution Malcolm Turnbull has made to my re-election is to break the hearts of Australians who thought he would be better on climate change, who thought he would be better on marriage equality, who thought he would be better on the ABC and SBS. Who thought he would be better on our school education funding. Who thought he would be better on universities and hospitals. The contribution Malcolm Turnbull has made to my re-election is to disappoint 3.5 million Australians who have gone off him since he became Prime Minister, just a few short months ago.
JOURNALIST: Do you feel more confident in re-gaining your seat in the wake of this preference announcement?
PLIBERSEK: I have never taken my seat for granted. I have been out since the last election; I have done well over 100 street stalls in my electorate. I’m always meeting with local community groups, meeting with my constituents. So I’ve never taken this seat for granted, and I was never hoping to just scrape in. I was always hoping to work hard for people’s first preference votes and to be re-elected on the basis of my commitment to this electorate.
JOURNALIST: Would Labor and the Liberals reach similarly mutually beneficial preferencing arrangements in South Australia to ward off Nick Xenophon?
PLIBERSEK: Well of course the national preferencing arrangements are a matter for the national preference negotiators and we have not finally concluded those negotiations yet. I might get Jason just to talk a little bit about the other ABC announcements we have made.
CLARE: Further to your point, what we can guarantee is the ABC will be better funded under the Labor Party than it ever will be under the Liberal Party. They ripped $250 million out of the ABC in that first budget, and a further $49 million in the last budget. The Liberal Party’s record speaks for itself. What’s even worse is, they made a promise before the last election that there would be no cuts and then there were deep, deep cuts. We have already made the commitment to invest an extra $21 million in the ABC, to fund more women’s sport being broadcast live on television but also on iView. And I’ve made the point this is not about competing with Channel 7, Channel 9 or Channel 10, it’s about identifying sports that are not being broadcast by the major commercial networks, and they have no intention of purchasing the broadcasting rights and putting them on TV. Could be hockey, could be basketball, like the National Basketball League, cricket or a whole range of other sports. On top of that, an extra $60 million to invest more in Australian based drama, the sorts of programs people love watching on the ABC everything from Rake, as an example of that, to Janet King. More of that – investing in the local Australian drama industry is a really, really good thing to do and then today this investment, an extra $9 million, to keep the Splash project going. Really, really good idea, it’s going to help our kids, help our teachers. Let me make one final point about the way in which we fund the ABC. The ABC is like any other government organisation, it can always be more efficient, you can always find ways to make savings in one part of the ABC to fund other parts of the ABC. We did that in government. So for example, ABC24, which lots of people watch, people watching it right now – that’s an example of where savings were found in one part of the ABC, to set that u p. And iView is another example of that – so where we can make the ABC more efficient, we should use that money to invest in more and more services for the Australian people.
JOURNALIST: Tanya mentioned a moment ago, that Labor wouldn’t be able to guarantee replacing all of the funding that the Liberals have cut out. Is the ultimate aim to reimburse all of those funds, or what do you foresee, and over what time period, or what do you see – the gulf left – once you have replaced some of the money?
CLARE: Well, the commitment that we are making is that the ABC will be better funded under Labor than it will be under the Liberal Party. And the commitments that we’ve made to date, mean it’s something in the order of an extra $90 million for the ABC, that are invested in real practical things that will make a real difference. Investing in Splash – that’ll help our kids and help our teachers. Investing in more drama that will make a really big and important difference to the local industry here that produces that drama, and putting more women’s sport on TV. I think it’s a crying shame that only 7% of the sport that we see on TV today is women’s sport. We can do a lot better than that and this investment will help to make that happen.
PLIBERSEK: And now, I’ve got just a short invitation. We’ve got another function just up the road after this, where we are working on engaging younger voters, people in their 20s in a light-hearted sort of way. We’ve got an ABC theme there, but we’ll also be talking about health and education, climate change, marriage equality – a whole lot of the other issues that are very actively debated in my electorate. So you’re welcome to that as well.