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Cormann stares down One Nation’s demand to cut $600m from ABC

Paul Karp reports in The Guardian (12.4.17) on accusations by One Nation’s James Ashby and Senator Brian Burston of ABC ‘leftwing bias’ – with Ashby saying public broadcaster SBS has too much multicultural and ‘gay-related’ content.

‘The finance minister, Mathias Cormann, has stared down a threat from Senator Brian Burston that One Nation will “reconsider” savings bills if the government doesn’t cut $600m from the ABC in the May budget.

‘Burston and James Ashby, Pauline Hanson’s chief of staff and party secretary, have savaged the public broadcasters, accusing the ABC of leftwing bias after a Four Corners special on One Nation and SBS of having too much multicultural and LGBTI content. It comes after Hanson celebrated One Nation’s 20th anniversary by declaring a boycott on appearing on ABC programs.

‘On Wednesday Burston told Guardian Australia he had contacted Cormann asking for $600m in cuts to the ABC over four years because the station was “overfunded” and “not utilising money effectively”. “It’s attacking mainstream and right-of-centre political parties instead of being balanced,” he said, adding that the government “doesn’t have the guts” to cut its funding for allegedly barracking for Labor and the Greens.

‘Burston said if the government “doesn’t consider savings at the ABC, then I don’t think they’re serious about any of [their savings]”. He warned that One Nation would “very seriously” consider other proposed savings but stopped short of promising to block them.

‘On Wednesday Cormann said MPs and senators were “entitled to their views and to express them” but non-government parties “do not speak for the government”.’

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