Responding to the 2020-21 Budget announced tonight by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, MEAA Chief Executive Paul Murphy said:
“Arts, entertainment and the future of journalism have again been relegated to the basket of expendable policy areas in this year’s federal Budget.
“The money that has been allocated to help the arts and entertainment sector recover from COVID-19 is inadequate and poorly targeted.
“The $250 million announced earlier this year – most of which was loans or insurance assistance – will do little to address the sector’s structural challenges.
“Arts and entertainment workers, already shaken by widespread ineligibility for JobKeeper payments, should be aghast that they have again been by-passed by a big-spending Budget that provides no roadmap for the sector’s restoration.
“It is disappointing that the government has made no commitment tonight to support journalism by extending its Public Interest Newsgathering fund beyond the current financial year and make it a recurrent fund. At a time when journalism is under even greater pressure from reduced revenue caused by COVID, this support is sorely needed.
“The package of measures for the screen industry announced last week and included in tonight’s Budget represent a missed opportunity to help the sector rebuild and contribute to the economic recovery. MEAA acknowledges the additional funding for Screen Australia, but note sthat this simply restores what was cut from the organisation’s budget from 2013-14.
“There is also no further clarity about how and when the $35 million set aside for federally-funded cultural organisations will be distributed through the Australia Council.
“And finally, there was no extra funding in tonight’s Budget for our public broadcasters, despite the extraordinary job they have done in keeping the nation informed throughout a year defined by devastating bushfires and the pandemic. The cuts to the ABC began in 2014 and by 2022 will total more than $780 million. It is hard to see how the ABC can carry on without making further, damaging cuts to its workforce and the services it offers.”