ACT News

Parliament House jobs could go in ABC budget cuts

ABC news reporters and staff at Parliament House may not know the outcome of forced redundancies at the national broadcaster until the end of January, as reporters are placed into groups for a series of competitive performance audits.

As many as 19 proposed redundancies have been identified in the national current affairs divisions, with journalists and producers at Parliament House among those who will have to individually argue their case to management to retain current jobs. 

Former Canberra political reporter and foreign correspondent Samantha Hawley is waiting for news about the ABC's Bangkok bureau which will be scaled back from five staff to just two in 2015. 

ABC documents published by Buzzfeed show as many as 10 producers could lose their jobs from the national news division, which includes Parliament House, along with six senior reporters and two junior reporters. 

At least one technical operator for radio is also expected to be cut as staff are considered in the competitive "pools" which could also include scores in a published scale of key job requirements. 

The Canberra Times reported on Monday about eight jobs were expected to go for the ABC's Northbourne Avenue headquarters, including ACT director Elizabeth McGrath.

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The wide-ranging changes are expected to see 10 per cent of ABC staff made redundant nationwide. 

Ms Hawley moved to the Thai capital after her appointment as south east Asia correspondent in 2013. News director Kate Torney said on Monday the restructure of some overseas bureaux would include Bangkok as well as Tokyo, New Delhi, and Jerusalem.

Overseas reporters will work in "home-based operations" with video journalist and one local producer. 

Ms Hawley's husband, former 666 Canberra breakfast presenter Ross Solly, said the couple hoped to find an outcome that worked for their family. Mr Solly is currently on unpaid leave from the ABC. 

"In six months time the bureau will go from five to two, with the journalist becoming a video-journalist with a local translator," he said.  

"It's obviously incredibly disappointing that after 40 years in Bangkok the bureau is going, and especially at a time when there is so much happening in the region."

"But we also know the ABC has had to make tough decisions, and it's heartbreaking to read about my colleagues that have lost their jobs, and that shows like Friday night's 7.30 have been dropped."

A Community and Public Sector Union spokesman said formal consultation on the redundancies would begin this week and could be finalised close to Christmas.

Officials will lobby the ABC about the need for and timing of voluntary redundancies. The spokesman said the process could be finalised immediately before Christmas. 

About 150 people rallied outside Parliament House to protest the cuts on Tuesday.

An ABC spokeswoman said no information about redundancies at Parliament House would be released.

She said reports a mobile-led newsroom would be created in Canberra was not part of the proposal announced on Monday, as had been previously reported.

"We are not giving any such specific detail on the redundancy process. It would not be fair to staff."

ACT Greens Minister Shane Rattenbury will use a Legislative Assembly motion to identify the detrimental impact to Canberra from the cuts.

Mr Rattenbury will call on all Assembly members to oppose the budget cuts which he said would end coverage of women's sport and limit local news.

"In this age of commercial journalism, the need for impartial and unbiased media has never been greater.

"These cuts are an attack on public broadcasting, an attack on independent, quality journalism, and an attack on democratic principles. They also represent the clearest example in the litany of broken promises we have seen from Tony Abbott," Mr Rattenbury said.

 

 

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