Bendigo residents rally for ABC

ABOUT 100 people gathered at Hargreaves Mall outside the office of Senator Bridget McKenzie to protest cuts to the ABC today.

Community and Public Sector Union deputy secretary Rupert Evans told the crowd they had a responsibility to stand up and defend cuts to the organisation.

"Let's show the rest of Australia that Bendigo and central Victoria is standing up for our ABC!" he said.

"Let's keep fighting."

He said the ABC Central Victoria radio station - based in Bendigo and employing eight full-time staff members - was a vital news source, especially during the bushfire season.

He said the ABC specialised in detailed analysis, citing a recent story about urban sprawl in Strathfieldsaye in which reporters spent the morning speaking to residents about their thoughts on the topic.

"Where else would you get local analysis like that?" he said.

"This is a community that cares about our ABC and won't let it be destroyed."

He said the redundancies as a result of the cuts would affect people with children and mortgages.

Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters said the ABC was not a propaganda tool for the government of the day but rather an important outlet that kept politicians accountable.

"This isn't commercial enterprise - it's a foundation of our local economy," she said.

Protesters Jacki Dimond and Marie Jones said they cared about the ABC and wanted it properly financed.

"(The government) said (during the election campaign) they wouldn't cut funding to the ABC and now they are using weasel words to backtrack," Ms Jones said.

"People depend on their ABC for their sense of community."

Ms Jones was referring to Prime Minister Tony Abbott's promise the night before the 2013 election that there would be no cuts to the ABC.

John Ellis said the ABC was a vital service country people relied on.

"The quality of the ABC's drama and news sets the standard," he said.

John Flaws said there "are things in our culture whose value cannot be measured in dollars".

The rally was in response to Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull's announcement the ABC would have it's budget cut by 4.6 per cent over the next five years and SBS would have a 1.7 per cent budget cut.

Protesters signed banners and petitions opposing the cuts and posed for a group photo.

Rallies against the cuts took place across the country.


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