Australia

SBS could be moved to western Sydney under Labor proposal

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Labor has announced that if elected it will commission a feasibility study into the relocation of the Sydney-based headquarters and studios of SBS from the north shore to western Sydney.

A Shorten Labor Government would commission a feasibility study into the relocation of the Sydney-based headquarters and studios of the Special Broadcasting Service from Artarmon to western Sydney, alongside the provision of a multi-purpose space for content creation and public use.

Labor's Anthony Albanese, Tony Burke, Jason Clare and Michelle Rowland released the joint announcement on Monday.

"Western Sydney is one of Australia’s most diverse and fast-growing areas and SBS is Australia’s most diverse multi-platform digital broadcaster," the statement read.

Labor's Anthony Albanese released a statement with Tony Burke, Jason Clare and Michelle Rowland.
Labor's Anthony Albanese released a statement with Tony Burke, Jason Clare and Michelle Rowland.

"But there is an imbalance in infrastructure, skilled jobs and cultural investment in western Sydney; and the proposed relocation of SBS has been mooted for years.

"The feasibility study will examine the merits of addressing the inequality in western Sydney by utilising and leveraging the public’s investment in the nation’s multicultural broadcaster, the SBS." 

When former Prime Minister Paul Keating opened the SBS building in Artarmon more than 25 years ago, it was said to help mainstream SBS by moving it closer to other TV networks, "bringing radio and TV under the one roof for a complete service and reflecting its image as elegant, economic and efficient". 

Group photo outside SBS Artarmon building
A photo outside SBS Artarmon building in the 90s.

Labor's statement said that the feasibility study will provide $20 million to the SBS for Australian content and provide $2 million to the SBS to upgrade systems to provide audio description for blind and low vision Australians.

It will also "halt any further spending of what remains of the $17.1 million of taxpayer funds Scott Morrison provided for the provision of commercial TV content to the Pacific" with the intention of redirecting it from the commercial media sector to the ABC and SBS in a manner consistent with the outcomes of two departmental reviews into Soft Power and Australian Broadcasting in the Asia Pacific. 

The Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue released a statement congratulating the opposition on investigating the opportunities to relocate SBS to western Sydney - referring to the move as a "no brainer".

Chairman Christopher Brown said the proposal was long overdue. 

"The Dialogue has been campaigning for this move for nearly five years, and we're certainly pleased that the Federal Opposition is taking a lead on this," Mr Brown said.

"There is no doubt that SBS, the nation's multicultural broadcaster, should be based in multicultural western Sydney and not mono-cultural Artarmon. It's a no brainer," he said.

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Watch: A ode to Western Sydney called 'My Australia' written and performed by Bankstown local poet Sara Mansour.
Watch: A ode to Western Sydney called 'My Australia' written and performed by Bankstown local poet Sara Mansour.

"This proposal opens up a number of opportunities for the region, and any number of cities would make for a great fit.

"Places like Bankstown for instance, which is home to a large pool of arts and creative young talent and is centrally located."

The Sydney Business Chamber has also welcomed the proposal.

The Western Sydney Business Chamber released a statement saying it welcomed the announcement.

David Borger, Executive Director of the Western Sydney Business Chamber, said, “The Chamber has consistently called for SBS to be relocated to the multicultural heartland of Sydney.

“A call we have made since 2014 and last year, I wrote to the then SBS Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Michael Ebeid, suggesting that SBS as the nation’s multicultural and multilingual broadcaster base itself in Western Sydney,” Mr Borger said. 

“These areas provide SBS with a talent pool, allow the broadcaster to be physically located closer to its audience, and have the added benefit of stimulating activity in one of the city centres of western Sydney.

“There are a number of large city centres, including Parramatta, Bankstown and Liverpool that have excellent and improving transport links and significant new investment in commercial offices, civic infrastructure and new retail."

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