John Barilaro, Deputy Premier, and Minister for Regional New South Wales, Industry and Trade and Leader of The NSW Nationals has posted the following in support of ABC
My open letter to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister regarding the ABC.
I write to you both urgently requesting the budget cuts imposed on the ABC be reversed because of the devastating impact this will have on regional Australia.
It is undisputed that regional Australia has battled through unprecedented droughts, floods, bushfires and now COVID-19. It would be fair to say that while our communities are resilient, their ability to weather this compounding storm is becoming harder and harder.
Throughout these horrific events we have seen the best in our communities, coming together to keep safe and rebuild and ensure they continue to stand tall when the storm passes.
With more regional papers disappearing like the water in our dams, contractions from some of our regional networks like the populations of our small communities, the ABC has always withstood time and politics to be there for us.
With the summer from hell, it was the ABC that had our backs. They gave us the warnings, kept us up to date and told us about those we lost and the heroes that emerged from the ashes. During the drought, the plight of our farmers and communities, again the ABC showed us the images, showed the anguish of our communities and told these stories to our city cousins. Real stories. Human stories.
We all know the economic uncertainty and challenges that lay on the horizon and I know first- hand the importance of governments making tough decisions for the betterment of its people. But frankly, I cannot understand how a government can make decisions that ensures a certain part of our nation is worse off. To hear that there was an opportunity for regional Australia to see more jobs, more of our stories told and the platform for accessing information expanded in the wake of the worst fires in living memory was denied, is devastating.
If it is true, that the request to put our regional communities front and centre of the national broadcaster’s agenda went unanswered – that is incomprehensible.
I urge you to put ideology aside and geography first.
Give our small communities their voice, give them hope and the safety the ABC provides in times of emergencies, because sometimes you need to invest in free and accessible media, for all Australians, no matter where they live.