The ABC Canberra bureau will lose four positions in news operations and administration and be required to produce an additional 15 minutes of local breakfast radio programming instead of airing the 7.45am radio news bulletin, as the national broadcaster adjusts resources to meet federal budget cuts.
The ABC has announced up to 250 jobs will be cut across the country as it loses $84 million in federal funding.
ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury said the cuts were an “attack” on the public broadcaster and on independent, quality journalism, and democratic principles.
“In an era of fake news and state-sponsored disinformation, the need for impartial and unbiased media has never been more important.
“The Greens strongly oppose the budget cuts inflicted on the ABC by the federal Liberal government.
“Today’s announcement lays bare the impact these cuts will have.”
The cuts come after a summer of unprecedented bushfires – which killed 20 people and destroyed more than 2,000 properties – added $3 million in costs for emergency broadcasting.
Independent research and planning agency Ruby Cha Cha asked around 1,630 people to complete a 15-minute survey into their perception of the ABC’s bushfire coverage.
It revealed seven out of 10 (73%) Australians acted on ABC information as a result of hearing an emergency broadcast.
And among those in bushfire affected areas, three in five (59%) said they acted on information from the ABC in some way to ensure their personal safety or the safety of others.
Federal Greens spokesperson for media, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, has responded to the announcement by urging the Prime Minister to reverse the funding cuts and save jobs and public interest journalism.
“The ABC has suffered from repeated budget cuts under the Coalition Government, some $783 million since 2014 and is now forced to cut jobs and news services to stay afloat,” Senator Hanson-Young said.
“The Morrison Government should be ashamed it has decimated a vital public service which just this year alone has saved lives during the bushfire crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic.
“All Australians will now be worse off. We will become increasingly unaware of matters of public interest, which suits this secretive government, and ignorant to international affairs.
“Australian-made content will be reduced, and the flow-on effect will be more job losses.”
In 2014, Mr Rattenbury put forward a motion in the ACT Legislative Assembly condemning “the Federal Coalition Government’s extensive funding cuts to Australia’s public broadcasters”.
Mr Rattenbury said “cuts to public broadcasting will have significant detrimental effects in the ACT”, including the loss of local employment, fewer news production resources, and the loss of valuable local programs.
The Canberra Liberals voted against the motion, instead suggesting that this is a matter for the Federal Government, not the ACT Government.