Fresh from a solid Sydney-bashing session over the national Peter Wilkins sports-wrap, the politicians and Tassie journalists are lining up Aunty’s recent cut-backs in the Apple Isle as you can see from this recent rollcall of statements.

Tassie drops off The 7.30 Report map

From the April 14 sealed section

The ABC team in Tasmania are not happy with The 7.30 Report for scaling back its commitment to the Apple Isle. This circular from local heavyweights and the MEAA comes from

Tasmania has been singled out by ABC management in its latest round of cost cutting. The position of television current affairs reporter for the 7.30 Report has been downgraded to a part time position, severely affecting the coverage ofstate issues.

The job has been left vacant since the end of last year when Judy Tierney retired, and management has advertised the job as a three day a week position. ABC staff are angered by the changes and are concerned that Tasmania is being treated as a second rate state.

The fact is that national stories occur on any day of the week, and they can’t be properly covered on a part time basis. A case in point was the resignation of Premier Jim Bacon. The 7.30 Report covered the story from Melbourne. This is what we can look forward to in thefuture.

No other state or territory has had its current affairs coverage cut in this way. Members will meet next week to consider action to be taken if management do not reinstate the position to full time.

Peter Gee,
TV newsreader
Maura Angle,
TV Political Reporter
Andrew Muthy
Secretary Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance – Tasmania
Friday, April 9, 2004

From the April 15 sealed section

Meanwhile, further to the union and staff threats over Tasmania losing its full-time 7.30 Report position, a Tasmanian political journalist writes:

“How about Tassie’s (single) radio current affairs reporter which has been left vacant now for more than a year? Sydney could well be convinced, without Tasmania’s News Editor uttering a single word, that neither of the positions is of much consequence.”

Media statement by Paul Lennon

Friday, 16 April 2004

ABC Management Must Look After Tasmania

Premier Paul Lennon today said ABC management could not treat Tasmania as a second-rate state. Mr Lennon said Tasmania deserved a full-time journalist dedicated to the national 7.30 Report program, as was the case in other states.

“Anything less than that does not represent a serious coverage of Tasmanian affairs,” he said. “The position has been vacant since late last year and it is unacceptable for the ABC to now fill the position with a part-timer.

“I call on ABC management to rethink this decision and do what is fair by the Tasmanian people.”

Media Statement from Greens leader Peg Putt

April 16

The Tasmanian Greens today criticised the national ABC management’s proposal to cut services in Tasmania, saying that services in Tasmania are in danger of being regionalised by the ABC in the same way that they were by the introduction of Jetstar by Qantas.

Greens Opposition Leader Peg Putt MHA said that the downgrading of the position of current affairs reporter in Tasmania to a part time position was a sign that ABC management regarded the State as a media backwater which could be adequately serviced by other states.

“Tasmania is being discriminated against by mainland management, and if ABC staff are considering industrial action to maintain the quality of current affairs reporting in this state they would have the full support of the Tasmanian Greens,” Ms Putt said.

“No other state is facing cutbacks of this nature, and Tasmanians should be very concerned that their reputation around the country may be compromised by the treatment of Tasmania as a regional outpost.”

“It is completely unacceptable and discriminatory that one state should be treated differently to all other states by a so-called national broadcaster.”

“Given the Labor Government’s unprecedented propensity for spin, good governance demands a strong and well resourced media in Tasmania rather than being treated as a second rate state by ignorant mainland managers.”

“A number of high profile Tasmanian stories have recently been broken by mainland media outlets, and Tasmanians can expect more of the same if ABC management get their way.”

“This situation is made even more serious by the fact that the ABC is a publicly owned broadcaster upon which rests the important responsibility of providing the independent scrutiny required in a robust democracy.”

“If Tasmanian current affairs is reported less or in less detail, and not in a timely manner, then Tasmanians will inevitably become disengaged from the specific Tasmanian issues of the day, as traditionally they have relied upon the ABC’s reporting to keep them well informed.”

“The ill-conceived cuts will reduce the awareness of Tasmania around the rest of Australia and reflect poorly on Tasmania’s reputation as a player in the national political arena.”

Media statement from Federal Labor MP Duncan Kerr

April 16

The ABC management is set to relegate news and current affairs in Tasmania to a part time concern. It has delayed filling the position left by retired news and current affairs legend, Judy Tierney in December last year, and now proposes three day a week national coverage of events in Tasmania.

I would urge the decision makers in this instance to rethink their position. It is unacceptable to treat Tasmania with such apparent disinterest. Judy Tierney filed regular reports to the national 7.30 Report, bringing an important local insight and perspective to Tasmanian issues. Since her retirement, all Tasmanian-sourced stories have been packaged interstate by reporters a long way from the flow of events.

Labor Leader, Mark Latham’s visit; and Premier Bacon’s announcement of his illness and subsequent retirement are a few of the stories pulled together in interstate bureaus. It is reasonable to question whether these reports can paint the full picture in the absence of local knowledge and contacts.

It is also likely important events and issues, as well as unique human interest stories, will be missed without a journalist ‘on the road’ in Tasmania.

I understand ABC management has also been tardy in filling the national radio news and current affairs position which has been vacant almost fifteen months. Together, these two deficiencies in staffing would appear to represent unnecessary penny-pinching at the expense of Tasmanian news and current affairs coverage.

In a fast-changing world, it is vital people have ready access to up to date and accurate information – particularly on local concerns and interests. The ABC provides a vital public service to Tasmanian radio and television audiences. It is central to our statewide community.

It seems very unfair that Tasmania has been singled out for a budget-driven decline in news and current affairs services. Tasmanian taxpayers make the same individual contributions to the ABC as the citizens of any other Australian state. They are entitled be treated as equals in terms of the ABC’s return investment in the state.