Ministers for the Department of Communications and the Arts

Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield

Minister for Communications

Minister for the Arts

Manager of Government Business in the Senate

SBS Showcase—Parliament House, Canberra

23 February 2016


E & OE


Well thanks so much Hass and for your role as Acting Chair and Deputy Chair. Great to be here with the Managing Director, Michael, and members of the board.

I'm assuming it's purely a coincidence that this showcase is held shortly before the budget Michael? Just purely coincidence. Michael keeps muttering 'triennium, triennium'. So I'm not sure what that's code for.

I've got a lot of Parliamentary colleagues here tonight, but can I acknowledge them through four colleagues in particular—the Father of the House Philip Ruddock who is here. The Father of the Senate, Ian MacDonald who is with us. Our newest Member of Parliament, Trent Zimmerman, the Member for North Sydney. And also my Opposition counterpart, Jason Clare. Colleagues one and all, welcome.

Most of all can I acknowledge the array of SBS talent that is here tonight. Now I must confess a week or two back I was speaking at a similar event for another 'unnamed' public broadcaster. And I made a confession there that what kept me coming back to that particular public broadcaster were the surnames Doogue and Trioli. So it's only fair that tonight I share with you those on SBS that keep me coming back to SBS time and time again. And they are what I think are the undisputed two best news presenters on television in Australia. And that's Janice Petersen and Anton Enus. Although Janice is a little bit nervous tonight because Anton is running the shop solo. She doesn't want him to get used to that. But great to be here with those who make SBS what it is.

I should also mention on the way here I bumped into Mark Scott who asked me to convey his apologies. He said he couldn't get here, he was a busy, he was muttering something about 'scoping'. I don't know what that meant.

Anyway, but tonight is an opportunity for us really, particularly as members of Parliament, to pause and reflect on the contribution that SBS has made to the nation. And SBS's birth wasn't something that was unchallenged. SBS did face some difficulties in its early days. Not least of which came from parody, from comedians. I think we all remember Marg Downey on 'Fast Forward' talking about the 'very exciting programs' coming up on SBS. Of course those who are my age, who grew up in Sydney, we had Doug Mulray, who had his satire of 'Bogdan the turnip boy and his darling wife Danuta'. And I do have to mention that there was also a time when SBS was known particularly for some World Movies that made young men blush.

But, the parody of SBS has ceased. It's a thing of the past. People don't make light of SBS anymore. And that is an indication that the nation has a much better appreciation, and a much better understanding of what SBS is and what it has to offer. SBS is a very mature media organisation. Over 40 years on radio and 35 with TV, SBS has helped us as a nation to better understand ourselves, and, it's helped us as a nation to better understand the world that we are a part of.

For me, I've got to admit I still love that SBS slogan or catch cry from the mid 1980s, which I think really encapsulated what SBS is about. And that was 'SBS: Bringing the World Back Home'. I did jump on YouTube and have a look at that slogan, that promo earlier today. The production values have improved, I must say.

But for me, the essence and the soul of SBS was really distilled into that wonderful and epic 5 minute SBS promo of the early to mid-1990s. You might remember, it had a girl on a tricycle and she was riding the tricycle through Red Square, riding on the banks of the river Ganges, riding it in Brazil. And she was looking through her viewfinder at the visions that she saw. And all of that was set to Deep Forest's evocative 'Sweet Lullaby'. If you ever want to get what the feeling, the sense, the essence of SBS is, jump on YouTube and hook out that wonderful 5 minute promo.

We're here because we love SBS. SBS is TV. SBS is NITV. SBS is radio. SBS obviously is football. And, for me, SBS is definitely Eurovision, and always will be. SBS is contemporary Australia. SBS is a bit edgy. And it is a bit frisky. And that's one of the things I like about it. But tonight is a night to pause, to reflect, to celebrate. And if I can adopt and vary the latest slogan for Canberra, which is 'the world's coolest little capital'. I think SBS is the world's coolest little public broadcaster. Thanks very much.


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