Mr President just some comments and observations.
It’s not the position of the Government to alter the ownership arrangements of the public broadcasters. But we do have a range of measures that we’re seeking to implement to enhance the efficiency, the accountability and the transparency of ABC operations which I’ll just quickly go through.
In the Budget, we announced an indexation pause for the ABC funding in its next triennium. We have paired that with an efficiency review to make sure that the ABC is being the best possible steward of taxpayer resources that it can be. Just in reference to Karina’s earlier motion, that efficiency review is also applying to SBS.
I’ve also initiated something called a Competitive Neutrality Inquiry, which has the purpose of assessing whether the ABC and SBS are using their position as taxpayer-funded entities to compete in ways which are not fair with the commercial broadcasting sector.
We also have a range of legislative measures which we have before the Senate. One of those, is to put into the ABC’s Act, specific and explicit reference to its obligations to rural and regional Australia. Most people think that the ABC Act states a specific obligation to rural and regional Australia. It doesn’t. We’re going to put that in the Act.
We’re also going to be legislating to ensure that the ABC board always has at least two members from rural and regional Australia. We would already meet that criteria because of the appointments that I’ve made. I’ve put on the ABC board the Chair of the Minerals Council of Australia. I’ve put the on the ABC board the Vice President of Ag Force Queensland, a beef producer from Kingaroy.
We also have legislation before the Senate to put in the ABC’s Act; a requirement for the ABC to be fair and balanced. Again, that’s something that, it’s assumed, is in the ABC Act. It’s not.
And finally, we have legislation before the Senate to require that anyone in the ABC organisation who earns more than two-hundred thousand dollars a year has that declared.