Government defends ABC budget cuts

The Turnbull government has defended funding cuts to the ABC the morning after delivering a budget focused on tax.

A three-year funding freeze will cut $84 million from the public broadcaster, following a decision to axe $43 million in funding for news and current affairs.

But Finance Minister Mathias Cormann says the ABC will still receive $3.2 billion over those three years.

“This is effectively equivalent to the efficiency dividend that applies to nearly all other government taxpayer-funded organisations,” he told the ABC on Wednesday.

“Nearly all other government-funded, taxpayer-funded organisations have to find productivity improvements and operation efficiencies.”

Labor leader Bill Shorten said the ABC was one of the “pet hates of the right wing of the Liberal party”.

ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie

“Because the ABC occasionally asks questions of the government they’re going to wind back $83 million,” he told the broadcaster.

“This government manages to find tens of millions of dollars for other media outlets.”

ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie said the cuts could not be absorbed by efficiency measures alone as the broadcaster had already achieved significant productivity gains in response to past budget cuts.

“The ABC is now more important than ever given the impact of overseas players in the local media industry and the critical role the ABC plays as ‘s most trusted source of news, analysis and investigative journalism,” she said.

“Stable, adequate funding is essential if we are to continue to deliver for n audiences.”

Ms Guthrie also rejected a proposed efficiency review as unnecessary given previous programs to scale back.

The government found $14 million for SBS to make up for revenue it lost when laws to ease advertising restrictions failed to pass federal parliament.

The n Children’s Television Foundation and Ausfilm have been given $3 million for local film and TV content.