ABC Friends kicked-off its national election campaign yesterday, with a big cross-border public meeting in the marginal seat of Indi, and the planned formation of a new local branch.
The huge Albury-Wodonga audience – which packed-out “The Cube” venue – heard concerns about the future of already inadequate regional ABC services. Candidates running for the seat, with the exception of the Liberals’ Sophie Mirabella, attended and spoke at the meeting.
Independent Indi MP Cathy McGowan and Farrer Greens candidate Amanda Cohn were some of the speakers voicing concern for the national broadcaster, which was said by some in the audience to be the “lifeblood” of Australian culture, and an institution central to life in the country.
But many were disappointed by Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie, who said her party would maintain its absolute denial of the need to augment the ABC budget.
The Nationals enthusiastically voted to endorse Tony Abbotts’ broken promise that resulted in a 10 per cent cut to the ABC budget.
ABC Friends national spokesman Ranald Macdonald, a former editor-in-chief of The Age, said it was important to push for a restoration of the 25 per cent cut in funding for the ABC since 1985, let alone the recent severe cuts imposed by the Federal Government.
“This is just the beginning,” said Mr Macdonald.
“Not only has this event lead to the beginnings of a local branch for campaigning in Indi, it is serving as a template for further action in marginal seats across the country.”
“The reception we are receiving is overwhelming,” he said.
“Australians across an incredibly wide spectrum of the community are indicating to us that the survival of the ABC, and the restoration of all of the lost funds, will be a central issue in the coming election.”
ABC Friends plans to be a major force in a selection of marginal electorates this election, with a level of targeted multi-media and grassroots campaigning not yet seen by supporters of public broadcasting.
For more information, or further comment, please contact Ranald MacDonald on 0424 545 516.