Speech - ABC Showcase - Australian Parliament House
Acknowledgement of country
I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands on which we meet: the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples.
I pay respect to Elders past and present, their customs and traditions, and extend this to First Nations people here today.
I am pleased to be part of a Government that is committed to improving the lives of First Australians.
This includes Target 17 of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, ensuring by 2026, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have equal levels of digital inclusion.
The ABC is an important feature of our democracy, and the annual ABC Showcase is a fixture of the Parliamentary calendar.
Tonight, we celebrate the invaluable contribution that the ABC plays in bringing us together and shaping our national identity.
There are so many stars here tonight – it’s a galaxy – including, of course, my many Parliamentary colleagues from across the political spectrum, alongside ABC friends, presenters and personalities.
The ABC is for all Australians – and is one of our most important cultural institutions, which is why it is of such great interest across the Parliament, and indeed is accountable to Parliament.
The ABC is also accountable to all Australians who engage with ABC content and services every day, demonstrating the ongoing relevance of the ABC to everyday life in our country.
Connecting us in times of disaster
The ABC is a lifeline that connects us all, especially in the face of adversity.
Be it the fierce flames of bushfires or the relentless fury of floods, the ABC provides real-time updates, crucial warnings, and vital emergency information through its extensive network and dedicated journalists.
This allows communities to make informed decisions, and, ultimately, save lives.
Here I take this opportunity to acknowledge ABC staff, wherever they are – be they reporting from conflicts, disasters, working on film sets and TV and radio studios, in offices or in regional bureaux around the country – they are working to inform the public and tell our stories.
Yet the ABC is so much more than just a source of news during trying times.
It’s a constant companion - there for us every day.
Its commitment to local journalism ensures that our diverse communities are not only heard, but celebrated.
Providing entertainment to all Australians
And as we know, the ABC doesn’t stop merely at informing us.
It entertains, captivating us with joy and challenging us with ideas.
While all good things must come to an end, including Mark Humphries Satire on 7:30, it is very pleasing to see, that with the announcement of the ABC’s 2024 programming slate - fun fact: The ABC has the largest slate of comedy commissions in Australia.
There is also an array of Australian dramas, lifestyle, factual, arts and kids programs to look forward to, including a glamorous new series, Ladies in Black. I had the privilege of attending a set visit for this production just the other day in Adelaide.
It is great to see that Anthony Burke will host the iconic series, Grand Designs, especially considering his existing commitments as Minister for the Arts, - Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Leader of the House, not to mention leader of Labor’s Caucus band, Left Right Out.
You know what they say, busy people get more done.
And, not to mention the ever-popular Muster Dogs returning in 2024 with a whole new cast of kelpies.
Clearly, through its diverse range of programs, the ABC caters to the varied tastes of all Australians.
It fosters a sense of national pride, showing us the creativity and talent that our country possesses.
And what a treat it is to have such talent joining us tonight.
I know my young daughters will be thrilled to hear I caught up with Bluey and Bingo.
When it comes to catering for all Australians, I acknowledge the ABC for the significant improvements it has realised in the provision of audio described content for blind and low-vision Australians – including episodes of Bluey.
It gave me great satisfaction to attend the launch of audio description on ABC iView, at Ultimo, earlier this year, and to meet a number of people who benefit directly from this content, as well as advocates who have worked so long for this progress.
It is fantastic when the national broadcaster leads by example for the sector when it comes to accessibility and inclusion.
What the Government is doing for the ABC
For over 90 years, the ABC has been meeting the needs of Australians.
Recognising its critical role in Australian society, this Government has delivered 5-year funding terms to the ABC to provide funding certainty and stability.
This funding allows the ABC to continue meeting the needs of Australians in the ever-changing digital landscape.
My department is also conducting a review of options to support the independence of the national broadcasters, to safeguard against funding cuts and political interference.
I’d also like to acknowledge ABC Chair, Ita Buttrose AC OBE, along with members of the ABC Board and Executive who are here this evening.
Ms Buttrose has provided stability, passion and commitment while at the helm of the ABC, during a critical period of change and growth for the organisation.
Ita Buttrose was the right chair of the ABC at the right time.
I thank her for her dedicated service and sincerely wish her well as her term comes to a close in early 2024.
In closing, what the showcase this evening demonstrates is that the ABC is not merely a broadcaster; it is the heartbeat of our nation.
Ultimately, a strong public broadcaster leads to a stronger democracy.
In these uncertain times the value that the ABC brings is immense.