Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party wants the ABC’s budget slashed by as much as $600 million a year or it’s threatening to oppose government bills in the senate.
The broadcaster’s allocation of money will again come under review in Scott Morrison’s budget in May. It’s current budget is an estimated $1.22 billion annually.
One Nation has long griped about a perceived bias against it by ABC journalists and included a stinging attack by Hanson herself yesterday where she revealed she’d no longer appear on or be interviewed by the broadcaster. “I have no time for them, I won’t be doing any interviews with the ABC. So to the ABC don’t bother ringing me up for any interviews, it is not happening,” Hanson said.
Hanson also revealed she’d been invited to meet with Australian troops in Afghanistan and Iraq as part of a parliamentary delegation to celebrate ANZAC Day.
However, Hanson’s planned trip – which included politicians from all the parties – was revealed by ABC journalist Andrew Probyn on the Outsiders program and the trip was subsequently axed by the Defence Department following security concerns. The cancelling of the trip infuriated Hanson.
It’s believed another politician on the trip had inadvertently divulged details of the trip to Probyn.
One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts has demanded an inquiry into how the ABC knew of and subsequently reported on the proposed trip. Roberts called it a “security breach” and an “interference with democracy”. His comments reported on The Australian.
Another One Nation senator, Brian Burston, has used the breach as a call to cut the ABC’s funding.
“I’ve contacted (Finance Minister) Mathias Cormann and said One Nation wants the ABC funding reduced by $600 million over the forward estimates,” Senator Burston told The Australian.
“If they’re not forthcoming in reducing funding to the ABC as part of their budget repair we’ll have to seriously consider what budget repair options (we support) that the Liberal Party puts forward. It’s about time we apply a little bit of pressure on the government to do something about the left-wing, Marxist ABC.”
The federal government has been wooing One Nation and the independent senators in hope of getting its media reforms passed. All of which are opposed by Labor and the Greens.
Although exact details are sketchy, it’s believed media ownership laws will be changed to allow the big players to buy-up smaller operators. License fees for the free-to-air are likely to be slashed or could possibly be abolished altogether. And Facebook and Google will be made to pay traditional media companies for using their content.