With just over a week until the Northern Territory is due to lose its vital shortwave radio service, Indigenous Affairs Minister and Country Liberal Senator for the Northern Territory Nigel Scullion made his first, limp protest.
Labor has been campaigning on this issue ever since the ABC announced its decision in mid-December, and has had regular contact with the ABC and affected communities and stakeholders ever since. That includes a personal meeting between Mr Dreyfus and Senator McCarthy and ABC Managing Director, Michelle Guthrie, this week.
Senator Scullion has been missing in action on this issue until now. His belated pledge to contact the ABC Board does not go far enough.
Instead of writing to the board, Scullion should be lobbying his own Ministerial colleagues about delivering the ABC the funding it needs to continue this crucial service. There is widespread concern within the Northern Territory about the impact the cessation of shortwave transmissions will have on the ability of those who live and work in remote communities to keep in touch with the rest of the world and keep safe.
The Liberals, and their colleagues the Nationals, claim to care about the bush but it has been Labor leading the campaign against the ABC’s decision to shift resources from remote areas to the capitals.
Senator Bridget Mackenzie claims to care about rural communications, but has stayed totally silent on the issue. Likewise, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and Communications Minister Mitch Fifield.
Scullion’s lack of action is just the latest in a long string of disappointments from a minister on his last legs.
Further, Labor urges Government to deliver funding to the ABC needed to continue shortwave radio transmission in the NT and ensure listeners in the bush are not cut off from the ABC.
The inaction of the Liberal-National Coalition on shortwave radio, and their disastrous budget cuts to the national broadcaster, prove they couldn’t care less about people in the bush or the ABC.
THURSDAY, 19 JANUARY 2017