Flush with Friends at Sydney rally

ABC Friends turned out in force at the NSW Teacher’s Federation Conference Centre on Sunday, for the colourful climax of the Friends election campaign.

The event competed with Scott Morrison’s official campaign launch, but the day was about the only thing the two events had in common. A full house of over 300 enjoyed the Friends event in person, and over 4000 visited the live streaming of the proceedings.

Cassandra Parkinson, ABC Friends NSW President, chaired the proceedings and introduced the excellent array of speakers.

Photo: Stephen Thomas

Kerry O’Brien, an ABC icon, set the scene with a powerful theme – this is a critically important election for both the ABC and democracy.

Michelle Rowlands, ALP spokesperson, presented ALP policy on the ABC.

Sarah Hanson-Young , Greens spokesperson, presented the Greens policy on the ABC.

Zali Stegall, Independent MP, added a different perspective on what independents can do for the ABC.

Quentin Dempster, another ABC icon, led a Q&A with the panellists to round out proceedings.

Photo: Stephen Thomas

A stunning event, full of enthusiasm for our loved and trusted national broadcaster.

Photo: Stephen Thomas

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher was also invited and his office sent the following reply:

Dear Cassandra

The Minister has asked that I thank you for your invitation for him to address an ABC Friends election event today.

The Minister is unable to attend due to prior commitments in his electorate. However, he would appreciate if you could please share with your audience the following brief statement:

The ABC is an essential component of Australia’s diverse media landscape. The Morrison Government wants the ABC to become the best possible version of itself, and the $3.3 billion, three-year funding package we committed for the next triennium gives it ample resources to do just that.

Total funding over the next triennium will be more than $97 million greater than the current triennium, including a return to indexation of the ABC’s operational budget.

As the ABC Chair said in response to the funding announcement we made in February:

I am delighted with the Government’s decision to commit $3.3 billion over the next three years to the ABC.

It will allow the national broadcaster to continue doing what it does best – provide information and entertainment to Australians wherever they live.

ABC funding has increased steadily each year under the Morrison Government, and will continue to do so during the three years to 30 June 2025. This guaranteed revenue provides the ABC with an enormous advantage over its commercial rivals, particularly as they face historic challenges. In addition, the Morrison Government’s News Media Bargaining Code has allowed the ABC to add more than 50 new journalists in regional Australia.

While the Government is providing the ABC with the funding it needs, we also have clear expectations of the ABC. In a letter to the Chair that accompanied the funding announcement we made in February, I noted the Government’s expectation for more detailed reporting on the ABC’s rural and regional activities, its enhanced news gathering program, and its provision of Australian content.

Another area where it is important for the ABC to retain and enhance public confidence is in vigilantly fulfilling its statutory obligation to present news and information that is accurate and impartial according to the recognized standards of objective journalism.

All true friends of the ABC would recognise the broadcaster should not be the platform for any particular ideology or political position.

Kind regards
Alex