HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
HON JASON CLARE MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS
MEMBER FOR BLAXLAND
EXPERTS AGREE THAT AUSTRALIA NETWORK IS VITAL
Three of Australia’s top businessmen, including the Prime Minister’s own key business adviser, and a top Australian diplomat have joined the campaign to stop the Abbott Government breaking another election promise by cutting the Australia Network.
The Australia Network is a vital soft diplomacy tool that reaches up to 167 million households, giving Asia and the world an insight into Australian life and values.
Despite this success, the Liberal Party is softening the ground to scrap the network and break its promise not to cut funding to the ABC.
Before the election Tony Abbott promised hand on heart there would be no cuts to the ABC.
He said on SBS News the night before the election:
"No cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS.
The ABC is funded to run the Australia network. If Tony Abbott cuts it, he will have broken another promise to the Australian people.
Experts from across the business and diplomatic world are joining forces to try to convince Tony Abbott to re-consider his slash and burn approach to the Australia Network.
“Certainly there is a case to be made for having [the] Australia network in a soft-power advocacy role, particularly to the region. A BBC survey found that wherever the BBC was, the view of the UK was better than where the BBC was not. By extension if Australia Network portrays Australia in a positive light one might expect it to rub off favourably on people.”
- Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council, Maurice Newman
“To pack up and go would send an immediate message, particularly if it is seen as retribution against the ABC in a political context. The signals would be ‘why the hell have you gone, we’ve spent all this time setting up, we thought you were coming to Asia’.”
- Founding Chairman of the Asia Society, Hugh Morgan
“The new geographic landscape for a developing Asia has many interests and countries which strongly present their point of view. We should do the same.”
- Chairman of Free TV Australia, Harold Mitchell
“We are really the only serious international broadcaster there. A lot of people could seek to fill the vacuum…it’s also highly desirable to keep Australian TV going into south-east Asia.”
- Former senior diplomat, John McCarthy
Tony Abbott should listen to these experts, including his key business advisor Maurice Newman, and save the Australia Network from the axe.