Corio 2022 candidate ratings

In the lead-up to the 2022 Federal Election, the ABC Friends Geelong group asked candidates for the seat of Corio about their support for the ABC.

We were able to formally interview the sitting member, Richard Marles of the ALP, and Simon Northeast, The Greens’ candidate. Thanks to both of them for their time.

We rated the two candidates’ spoken and written responses to a questionnaire that included a call to support these 6 commitments:

  1. Guarantee that ABC services will remain independent of government, free-to-air and free-to-access, and publicly funded from consolidated revenue.
  2. Improve funding certainty and the ABC’s ability to plan ahead, by introducing five-year funding agreements, indexed annually to compensate for inflation.
  3. Enable the ABC to fulfil its charter obligations, including the provision of comprehensive rural and regional services, by progressively restoring the ABC’s operational budget to the level of funding it received before the budget cuts imposed in 2014.
  4. Ensure that all ABC Board appointments are made from a short-list selected on merit by an independent non-partisan nominations panel, as laid down in the ABC Act.
  5. Restore and enhance funding for ABC International, so it can resume its vital role as Australia’s trusted voice in the Asia-Pacific.
  6. Ensure that good quality ABC radio and television broadcasts can be received throughout rural and regional Australia.

Here are our ratings and reports on their response.

Simon Northeast, The Greens

Simon left us in no doubt about his and the party’s support: “We’re big fans of the ABC. Personally, I’m completely on board. Completely and utterly. The ABC couldn’t have a bigger fan.”

Simon said that he’s seen first-hand the importance of the ABC as an emergency broadcaster in his capacity as a volunteer with the Airey’s Inlet CFA for the last 15 years. “As the effects of climate change are felt,” he predicted, “the ABC’s role will become even more important.”

He is very aware of the damage that’s been done to the ABC. “The cuts have been well reported. It’s been going on for a fair while now.” He mentioned various job losses and programming cuts he’s noticed. He endorses the party platform, which includes implicit support for all 6 of our commitments.

As well as believing that the ABC’s overall funding should be increased, he’s keen to push for a larger local office. He thinks the ABC should have at least as big a presence in Geelong as it does in other regional cities like Launceston and Newcastle.

Our rating against the 6 commitments

Richard Marles, ALP

Richard would also like the ABC to have a much bigger presence in Geelong. He enjoyed the series of broadcasts on local radio in March, but is pushing for a permanent change: “It’s been really good that they had the pop-up, but it’s a different thing to the ABC being in Geelong telling Geelong stories. Ultimately what I think would be really good is to get the ABC here. Funding is part of that story.”

Richard backed the Party’s platform, which is consistent with all 6 commitments except that it doesn’t specify how much of the lost funding will be restored.

He also told us he was particularly pleased with the extra funding for ABC broadcasting into the Pacific that Labor promised earlier in the campaign. He said he thinks the current government has completely undervalued the positive impact of Radio Australia in the region: “To not be investing in it is seriously crazy. It’s profoundly important.” He reminisced about the huge impact of its launch into Micronesia when he was Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Affairs in 2012. “To have a new radio service there was a source of national excitement.”

Our rating against the 6 commitments

Manish Patel, Liberal Party

Manish’s candidacy was only announced close to election time and we’ve had no contact with him. This rating is based on the Liberal campaign office’s response to our questionnaire.

Our rating against the 6 commitments

Max Payne, Liberal Democrats

Again, we’ve had no contact with Max’s campaign team. This rating is based on the Liberal Democrats’ history of hostility towards the ABC and declarations that it should be converted into a subscription service with no government funding.

Our rating against the 6 commitments