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Cormann defends new cuts to ABC

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The Turnbull Government has defended funding cuts to the ABC the morning after delivering a budget focused on tax.

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A three-year funding freeze will cut $84 million from the public broadcaster, following a decision to axe $43 million in funding for news and current affairs.

But Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the ABC would still receive $3.2 billion over those three years.

“This is effectively equivalent to the efficiency dividend that applies to nearly all other government taxpayer-funded organisations,” he told the ABC today.

“Nearly all other government-funded, taxpayer-funded organisations have to find productivity improvements and operation efficiencies.”

Labor leader Bill Shorten said the ABC was one of the “pet hates of the right wing of the Liberal party”.

“Because the ABC occasionally asks questions of the government they’re going to wind back $83 million,” he told the broadcaster.

“This government manages to find tens of millions of dollars for other media outlets.”

ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie says the cuts could not be absorbed by efficiency measures alone, as the broadcaster had already achieved significant productivity gains in response to past budget cuts.

“The ABC is now more important than ever given the impact of overseas players in the local media industry and the critical role the ABC plays as Australia’s most trusted source of news, analysis and investigative journalism,” she said.

“Stable, adequate funding is essential if we are to continue to deliver for Australian audiences.”

Guthrie also rejected a proposed efficiency review as unnecessary given previous programs to scale back.

The government found $14 million for SBS to make up for revenue it lost when laws to ease advertising restrictions failed to pass federal parliament.

It will also get $3 million to help develop local film and television content.

– AAP

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