All known candidates for Macquarie, along with senate candidates from the major parties were invited to ABC Friends Blue Mountains Meet the Candidate Forum, held on Saturday May 21st. We were joined by Susan Templeman, Labor candidate, Terry Morgan Greens candidate Hal Ginges, Animal Liberation Party and Senator Doug Cameron, Labor senate candidate for NSW.
We had a full house of around 100. Blue Mountains residents grilled the candidates on a variety of issues and the forum could have easily have run longer.
Each candidate gave a five minute opening address and all focused on the importance of the ABC as our independent, publicly funded source of news, current affairs and also entertainment.
ABC Friends NSW President, Mal Hewitt, emphasised how in two and half years the ABC has lost 500 staff, nearly 500 million dollars, with another 48 million to go, announced in the latest budget and that the ABC we see and listen to and consult on our personal devices has been incredibly diminished over this time and is not the ABC it was three years ago. He then then addressed a question to Doug Cameron asking if Labor were elected would they restore the ABC’s funding and also restore the Australia Network so that the ABC can continue to do the job that over 80% of the Australian people want it to do.
Doug Cameron’s response reiterated how the previous Labor Government had put more money into the ABC pointing to his opening address and again highlighting what support and funding Labor had given the ABC. While saying he and Susan Templeman were not in a position to announce Labor’s funding policy on the ABC he did say that “The ABC is a fundamental part of democracy in this country, it should be properly and effectively funded as Labor has done…” and that “We’re strong supporters of the ABC and we see a long, long future and it becomes more and more important as every day goes on”.
Terry Morgan emphasised that the loss of 500 staff is particularly concerning because what tends to happen these days is that when cuts are made to an organisation, particularly a publicly funded organisation, but any organisation, the first to be removed are human beings, the workers, the people.
Hal Ginges mentioned that it is only the ABC which exposes cruelty to animals and to all beings and if they were elected they would press and press and press to get the funding back to the ABC.
View the other pictures here