Scott Morrison dismisses call to reverse ABC funding freeze after bushfire and coronavirus crises

Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during House of Representatives Question Time on Wednesday. Source: AAP

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has rebuffed a call from Labor to allow the ABC more funding.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has dismissed a call from Labor to backtrack on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's funding freeze.

During Question Time in federal parliament on Wednesday, Labor leader Anthony Albanese asked Mr Morrison about the ABC's funding, saying the broadcaster played an essential role in providing information to the public during this summer's bushfire season and the coronavirus pandemic.

"Australians relied on the ABC to give them emergency updates during the bushfire crisis. Now Australians are relying upon the ABC to keep them informed, stay safe, and to support the ongoing education of their children during this health crisis," Mr Albanese said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese maintain social distancing during Question Time.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese maintain social distancing during Question Time.

"Will the Prime Minister restore funding so the ABC can keep doing its job so effectively?"

Mr Morrison responded: "The ABC is doing an excellent job and they’ll continue doing that job with the resources that have been provided to them."

"Like all agencies, like all Australians, they will all do the best job they can with the resources they have available to them."

The federal government in 2018 announced it would freeze the ABC's funding for three years, costing the broadcaster almost $84 million.

Mr Morrison - who was treasurer at the time - said the freeze was because "everyone has to live within their means".

ABC managing director David Anderson told Senate Estimates in October last year the freeze would mean job losses.

"There will be job losses," Mr Anderson said.

"It's not something I can quantify at this point in time, there's still more work to be done."

In the wake of the bushfire crisis, calls for the federal government to provide more funding to the ABC intensified.

"We are all dependent on the ABC for communicating health advice and pandemic information as our lives are dramatically changing every day," ABC Friends, a group that has been lobbying for greater funding for the broadcaster, said in a statement last month.

"We must insist that the Prime Minister and his Cabinet colleagues include the ABC in their stimulus responses as Australia faces this national [coronavirus] crisis."

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