Sir – ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie, and her senior management team, have revealed the depth of the ABC’s inadequate consultation before the NT shortwave service was shut down in January.
At a Senate Estimates hearing this week we learned that ABC management cut shortwave services in the Northern Territory because of budget constraints, which have been forced upon the ABC by the Turnbull Government.
In a surprising admission, Michelle Guthrie told the Communications and the Arts Senate Committee that she did not see it as her role to seek funding from the Federal Government because her focus is on providing content and operating efficiently.
The ABC also admitted the decision to cut the shortwave was made without any consultation with the people of the Northern Territory.
Ms Guthrie and ABC Management were asked to provide evidence of consultations and evidence of engagement with NT stakeholders prior to the shortwave switch off – a request that was taken on notice more than ten times.
This lack of consultation was magnified when Ms Guthrie and her team were unable to verbalise how many people were affected when the shortwave was shut off. The ABC Managing Director was also asked to provide documentation surrounding the ABC Boards decision to cut shortwave.
The ABC is yet to provide answers about the decision making process to end shortwave service.
It is also a service that Pacific Island nations such as Fiji and Vanuatu have relied on heavily. Now, even those countries are calling on the ABC to restore the shortwave.
Labor will continue to campaign for the NT shortwave radio service to be reinstated. The Government must act to see that this vital service is restored.
On Thursday March 9 a Senate Inquiry will be held in Darwin to allow stakeholders to provide evidence to directly to the committee on the impacts of the shortwave shutdown.
Malarndirri McCarthy (pictured)
Senator for Northern Territory