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Speech at the ABC 2016 Showcase

E & OE


Thanks very much Mark Scott. And can I acknowledge the Chair, Jim Spigelman, and the other members of the ABC Board who are with us tonight. Can I acknowledge my parliamentary colleagues and do that through the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tony Smith and also acknowledge my counterpart from across the aisle, Jason Clare. But most of all, can I pay tribute to the array of ABC talent that is here tonight. And in particular, two fine actors from the Killing Season, Sam Dastyari and Tony Burke. Sam, if you are here, I'm still wondering - what was that thing sitting on the chair on the phone? Anyway, great to be with you all.

Ladies and gentlemen, tonight is an opportunity for us to pause and reflect on the ABC and its important role in our community. It's also a chance for parliamentary colleagues to spend time with the ABC, other than in Estimates, or sitting in Brisso's studio. I think we all know that the ABC is importantly a media organisation, absolutely. But it's also a cultural institution. And it's an institution that evokes strong feelings, which I discovered in my first week as Minister for Communications. I got the command from Patricia Karvelas to come onto her program. Which I did. And I said, what I thought were moderate and appropriate things about the ABC. And the twitterverse on the left went berserk saying, I was an ABC hater. And then two nights later, I was with Chris Kenny on Sky and said exactly the same things. And the twitterverse on the right when berserk saying, I was an ABC lover. So as the Minister for Communications, how to find that sort of 'Goldilocks' spot when talking about the ABC isn't always easy.

The ABC is important to Australians and I characterise Australian's involvement with the ABC as akin to a long term relationship. Sometimes you can't get enough of the ABC, sometimes you don't want to be in the same room, but ultimately you keep coming back for more. And part of what keeps me coming back for more at the ABC, are three voices that I can't get enough of. Geraldine Dooge, Michael Rowland and Virginia Trioli. Their voices are like molasses over velvet. Yours included Michael. But obviously, Annabel Crabb keeps me coming back and is a particular favourite. And just after I became Minister I was reading a piece by Annabel on the Drum website, and it was, as usual, wise and full of insight. And I'll just quote a particular reference that she made in this piece to:

"…the brilliant, powerful and unnervingly handsome new Communications Minister Mitch Fifield."

And at that moment I thought, Cory has really got it all wrong about the ABC. That was until I saw a small asterisks next to my name and at the bottom of the page, I read what was there and it said,

"Hello Minister, welcome to the ABC, could we have some more money for the Drum please?"

So Annabel, I can announce tonight that ERC has approved a new policy proposal for ….
No, not really.

But friends, tonight is importantly also an opportunity to acknowledge the 10 years of service that Mark Scott has provide to the nation through his stewardship of the ABC.

Mark and I have shared some quality time together. Firstly, when I was the Minister representing Malcom in the Senate in Estimates and, more recently as the Minister for Communications. But Mark and I actually first worked together as baby faced young staffers in the Greiner Government in 1988. And there were a few other people kicking around that government then as staffers, Marise Payne, Barry O'Farrell, John Brogden, Trent Zimmerman, Sophie Mirabella. And Mark for 25 years, I've been meaning to ask you, when did you leave the path? Only joking. But Mark in that incarnation, and this is an area where I have a strong interest at the moment, sported a very fine beard.

But ladies and gentleman, Mark has been steward of the ABC over a period of tremendous change, as we know. Technology has been changing. The avenues and opportunities for viewers to consume media has been changing. They've had a greater array of choices. And the ABC has had to adapt to that environment. And Mark, you have been a steward who has given his all to that role. And can I say at this time, and I know there will be other opportunities, thank you for all you have done.

Ladies and gentlemen, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, the ABC will always be with us.

Media contact: Luisa Anderson | 0417 309 812 | Luisa.anderson [at] communications.gov.au ()