Jun 2, 2016

Transcript of press conference – FBi Community Radio, Alexandria

Subject: Community Radio Announcement

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: I want to start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land that we gather on today the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation and say how great it is to be back at FBi, and back at FBi with Anthony.  This is the second time in a decade we’ve managed to coordinate our diaries to be here at the same time!

Look it’s really wonderful to be here with Anthony Albanese and my colleague Jason Clare to make what we think is a very important announcement. We know of course that Malcolm Turnbull when he was Prime Minister cut funding for community radio and we’ve heard very loudly and very strongly from people working in the community radio sector, volunteers and most importantly from listeners of community radio, how much they value their community radio and how worried they are that up to 37 stations will close from the first of July because of the funding cuts.

So we are delighted to be here today to announce that Labor will fully restore those cuts, we would provide $5.6 million over the next 4 years so that we can have a properly funded community radio sector. We know what important work you do, right here particularly in supporting Australian music, but there are community radio stations right across Australia who play an absolutely vital role in their communities too. So thank you for having us today and I’m going to hand over first to Jason  to talk about the specifics of the announcement and then to my friend Anthony.

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Thanks Tanya, thanks Albo, thanks Phillip. Today is a great day because today we are announcing that if we are elected, if Labor is elected on the second of July, then we are going to reverse the cuts that Malcolm Turnbull has made to digital community radio services.

We understand how important community radio is, you’ve got about five million people right across the country listening to more than 440 community radio services every week. About twenty per cent of those people are listening to community radio through digital services.

The Labor Party was the party that started the rollout of digital radio right across Australia. We provided the funds to help rollout the digital radio infrastructure for transmission, multiplexes and the equipment here in the studios and we understand that you need to invest in that to make sure that not just commercial radio but community radio as well is on the digital platform.

Now as Tanya said in the budget Malcolm Turnbull cut $1.4 million every year out of community radio to provide these services. Two of the first people who rang me straight after the budget and said we’ve got to fix this were Tanya and Albo. They said this is going to cause a major problem because if you don’t have that money, then digital radio is going to get switched off on community radio, and not just one but if you can’t afford to rollout this infrastructure, whole cities get switched off. That’s why up to 37 stations right across Australia are at risk of switching off their digital radio services without this money.

That’s what is at stake here, that’s why I’m so proud to be here with Tanya and DJ Albo, to be able to say that if you vote Labor at the next election and if Labor is elected on the second of July then we’ll make sure that we protect these digital radio services that community radio provides right across the major capital cities on the Australian mainland. Thanks very much DJ Albo.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE AND TRANSPORT: Thanks Jason it’s great to be in Tanya’s electorate. Radio stations like this one and 2SER, service particularly young people and do an amazing job in terms of creating space for local musicians to get their music played.

Bands that go on to be big start small, and it is local community based radio with a commitment to Australian content that drive that change, that’s so important. FBi here of course do a festival, do lots of other activities as well in the local community. But not just for local music and young people, for ethnic communities’ community radio plays a vital role in terms of providing news and services in the languages which local communities speak.

Right across the board there’s specific services but also skills that so many people who you meet in the media began here at FBi or at 2SER, or at 3RRR in Melbourne, at other community radio stations, and that is why those skills, you’re here as volunteers as well. The other thing is if you talk about a dumb government act this is it, because this station survives on the sniff of an oily rag, as the saying goes, survives on the basis of people who give up their time for nothing. The least you can expect is the government to do its bit, and when this station struggled, I was the Infrastructure Minister, Tanya got onto us to make sure that this station survived in terms of its antenna and services. Labor is committed, we have delivered in the past and we would deliver in the future. 

PHILLIP RANDELL, COMMUNITY BROADCASTING ASSOCIATION OF AUSTRALIA : Well thank you so very much for the announcement, it certainly is an encouragement to the community broadcasting sector, and there is no doubt without this commitment and obviously the hope that you’ll win at the July second election. Community broadcasting is facing a very uncertain future not just on digital but eventually our future broadcasting full stop, so thank you.

It’s actually really interesting that tomorrow we start day of action around the country with 37 radio stations in the capital city markets, we’ll be encouraging their audiences to get onboard to contact their local members, to sign a petition. Almost 30,000 people have signed the current petition encouraging our existing government, the current government, to actually fully fund digital, this announcement is just so encouraging and so helpful, and stations will be able to let their listeners know tomorrow that the Labor Party is fully supportive of community broadcasting. So thank you very much we really appreciate it, and thank you for coming along today.