Malcolm Turnbull Finally Admits ABC Suffered Cuts, Not ‘Efficiency Dividend’

It’s one of the great, head scratchingly annoying facts of politics that it takes literal days to get politicians to own up to things they’ve actually done in anything resembling an honest manner.

Just under a week ago, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that somewhere in the vicinity of $254 million would be removed from the budget of national broadcaster ABC, along with an additional $25.2 million in funding shortfalls for the SBS. Such is the light handedness of political media spin, Liberal officials have attempted to stay as far away from the word “cuts” as humanly possible in the ensuing days.
The only small problem with that plan is that there’s a highly circulated piece of footage featuring Prime Minister Tony Abbott on the eve of last year’s Federal Election specifically and explicitly stating the sentence “No cuts to the ABC or SBS.” A decision like the one announced by Turnbull, when placed in comparison with the sentence spoken by Abbott – the party leader – seems to constitute the dictionary definition of a broken political promise.
And yet for nearly a week, we’ve had the continual denial from Abbott himself that the announcement constitutes a cut, and that no pre-election promises were broken in handing down the decision. Such is the wearingly dogged insistence of this particular line of political rhetoric that we’ve seen members of the opposition Labor party give him hell over it, members of his own Liberal party be utterly sick of the spin and doublespeak, and the media themselves imploring Abbott to call a spade a spade; despite the announcement that hundreds of jobs will go, operations in South Australia will all but cease despite (albeit weak) protestations from senior Liberal party officials, and programming cuts that include shaving state-based current affairs shows and the complete disappearance of women’s sport coverage from broadcast schedules.
Despite all of this, we’ve seen continual denial from Abbott that what his Government handed down was a cut – rather, the hilariously over-spun phrase “efficiency dividend” has been bandied about – a level of political doublespeak not seen since President Lisa Simpson‘s “temporary refund adjustment.”
But now, even when he previously defended the call, even Malcolm Turnbull has had to cave in at long last and call the move for what it is – unapologetic, unabashed, and unashamed financial cuts to the ABC and SBS.
Appearing on Sky News earlier today, Turnbull at long last cracked when pressed by questioning.

Well if you take the view that Tony Abbott’s remarks the night before the election on SBS trumped and obliterated everything his colleagues had said on this matter, then, yes, that promise, if that, if that is a promise, has not been fulfilled.

Well look, I’ll leave it, certainly there are cuts. He said no cuts to the ABC or SBS. There are cuts to the ABC or SBS.
At the very least (and if there’s any to be taken from this generally piss-poorly handled situation at all) there’s some comfort to be had in the Government bluntly owning up to things they’ve consciously done.
Photo: Lisa Maree Williams via Getty Images.