Susan Templeman warns about ABC cuts

Federal Member for Macquarie, Susan Templeman has condemned the federal government for putting the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury at risk with budget cuts to the ABC.

But her fears have been rejected by federal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher.

"We've learned the ABC is planning a further 200 sackings thanks to Scott Morrison's latest budget cuts," said Ms Templeman. "That means the number of ABC staff out the door as a result of Liberal budget cuts is set to soar above one thousand since July 1, 2019."

Concerned for emergency broadcasts: Susan Templeman with Michelle Rowland, Shadow Minister for Communications.

Concerned for emergency broadcasts: Susan Templeman with Michelle Rowland, Shadow Minister for Communications.

The ABC's managing director David Anderson, told Senate Estimates in October that "there will be job losses".

Ms Templeman said the recent news of staff cuts was bad for local residents who rely on the ABC for emergency broadcasting.

"As one Colo Heights resident pointed out at a fire preparation meeting a couple of weeks ago, he has found himself with no power, therefore no mobile phone, and no way to get emergency information other than listening to the ABC on a battery-operated radio.

"That's the situation many people across the Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains could find themselves in at some point during this summer.

"The emergency ABC broadcasts are vital and the information provided can help people make a decision about whether to stay or leave.

"The ABC can't continue to be stretched to do more with less - it needs to be properly resourced so that it can provide essential emergency information when it's needed most."

But federal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said the ABC Board and management is responsible for content and programming decisions. He said the broadcaster "performs a significant role in transmitting vital emergency information to Australians through its network".

"On 12 December 2019, the ABC released its content plan for the next three years. In this plan, I'm pleased to see the ABC has committed to continue to work with emergency agencies to deliver warnings, alerts and information about disasters and emergencies on TV, radio, online and on mobile."

The Gazette understands in 2018-19, ABC Emergency's strategy was updated, and included increasing the number of dedicated emergency broadcasting roles.