Melbourne Odds and Ends

No cuts to the ABC or SBS

The ABC, the Australian Broadcasting Commission, is our national broadcaster. It is a mighty fine institution, with TV stations, national and local radio stations and a big online presence. It has news bureaux in a number of important parts of the world, including the Middle East and China. Just to name some of the TV programmes is to show how influential it has been — This Day Tonight, Countdown, Play School, The Big Gig, Lateline, Gardening Australia, 4 Corners, the Chaser boys and the CouldHaveBeens. Add in JJJ radio, Radio National, and you begin to see the scope of the ABC. And all this is funded by the government, by us.

SBS is our multilingual station, with comprehensive world news, as well as news in many different languages. It also shows cutting edge programmes, many from non-English speaking countries which are then sub-titled for people like me who only speak one language. SBS recognises that people have come to Australia from all over the world. It too gives us investigative programmes, like Insight and Go Back To Where You Came From, that help us unravel the complexities of our world. It is partially government funded, with other income from ads.

These broadcasters are vital to our multicultural, dynamic society. They show us who we are, and help us decide who we would like to be. The ABC is crucial beyond the big cities, gives local news, highlights rural issues and is the emergency broadcaster in times of fire or flood.

I posted a few months ago about the budget cuts to be brought in by the Liberal Government, headed by Tony Abbott. The Government is having trouble getting their cuts through the Senate, but it hasn’t stopped them announcing that both the ABC and SBS are about to have their funding slashed — $254 million cuts and forecast 400 job losses at the ABC, $53 million from SBS.

This is despite Tony Abbott’s clear promise that there would be no cuts to the ABC. For more detail follow this link to Fact Check — part of the ABC News department. You can see why Tony Abbott wants to get rid of the ABC!

Today I went to a rally to protest about the cuts. There was a good turn out, and everyone got a chance to cheer, boo, chant and even laugh. However, I left feeling rather flat. Despite someone saying it was the beginning of a campaign, there was no feeling that it actually was. If this issue is a tipping point against the Abbott government, and again, someone said it was, then what are we going to do to make sure the see saw tips in our direction? I want to jump up and down on the end, but all I was told to do was send a protest postcard to Abbott. Bill Shorten, the Labor Party Opposition Leader, wouldn’t even tell us how the Labor Party will fight this, much less tell us that a future Labor Government would reinstate the funding.

So there we have it….one grumpy lady — grumpy because of the cuts and grumpy because I feel powerless. Now, tell me your favourite programmes and cheer me up!

Melbourne Odds and Ends

They say “Cut back!” We say “Fight Back!”

Last month our conservative Liberal Party Government, lead by Tony Abbott, brought down a horror budget. Think of anyone who is vulnerable ~ disabled people, people who are unemployed, single parents, low income earners, students etc etc ~ and this budget has hit them hard. It has cut funding to schools and hospitals across the country. There are attacks to Medicare, the ABC and SBS, universities and apprentice funding. These are attacks that will flow on to those who are working. No prize though for guessing which department had a 6% increase to its budget ~ Defence, of course.

However, people are not taking this lying down. Yesterday there was a protest called by the union movement, rallying workers from a wide range of industries.

Australia has a very proud tradition of union action, and unions have been very supportive of social issues, as well as purely industrial ones. Union membership has dropped over the last few decades, but maybe action like this will encourage new members to see that unions are organisations that fight for rights at work, as well as in the wider world.

The crowd was estimated to be about 30,000 and it was exciting to be amongst so many others.

I love the banners and signs that people carry. (Wave your mouse over the photo for more information about the photo.)

Some photos from the march itself. While you look, imagine all those people chanting slogans like:

“They say Cut Back! We say Fight Back!”

“What does democracy look like? This is what democracy looks like!”

“The workers united will never be defeated!”

I hope that this is the beginning of a fight against the budget, a fight that involves the union movement. This march tells me that people are angry about the budget and that they are prepared to loose a day’s pay to let Abbott and Hockey know. There is momentum there to be built on.

Not everyone was a burly construction worker!

And lastly, I had to take this photo. The comment “Latte drinking, left-wing tossers” is often thrown to disparage those who are perceived to be all talk and no action. Well, here is another version of “Latte drinking, left-wing tossers”!