As the ABC cuts more than 200 jobs for a content fund, ABC MD Michelle Guthrie has told politicians that the national broadcaster needs to “free up investment” to try its hand at new things. Guthrie was in Canberra yesterday evening to launch a new parliamentary friendship group devoted to the ABC.

“It’s lovely having friends. When you deal with the Chinese government they particularly refer to you as … old friends. It’s even better to have old friends,” she said.

Guthrie reiterated previous statements about the need for the ABC to remain relevant, and attract the 18-45 demographic, particularly in regional areas. The change would not be “another microphone in Federation Square or Martin Place” but telling stories in places like Yackandandah or Mallacoota.

“I think we need to free up investment to try new things. Not everything is going to work. I can’t guarantee everything you will like,” she told parliamentarians.

The friendship group has 50 MPs and senators as members, with four co-chairs in independent MP Andrew Wilkie, Labor MP Mike Freelander, Liberal MP Craig Laundy and Greens Senator Scott Ludlam. Also at the launch were Andrew Leigh, Tim Wilson, Trent Zimmerman, Warren Entsch, and noted ABC critic Bridget McKenzie, who has been pushing for the ABC to focus on regional Australia.

Ms Tips’ spy didn’t spot Justin Milne, the man widely tipped to be the new ABC chair, but Guthrie stuck around for a couple of hours at the event chatting to politicians of all persuasions.

Peter Fray

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