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18 Jul 2019 4:30
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  •   Home > News > International

    ABC should sell Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane properties and move to regions, senator says

    Queensland Liberal senator James McGrath says the ABC's property portfolio is worth more than $500 million and should be sold, with offices moved away from "inner-city latte lines".

    A federal government senator has called on the ABC to sell several of its capital city premises to help pay down national debt.

    Queensland Liberal James McGrath said the public broadcaster's property portfolio was worth hundreds of millions of dollars and should be moved away from "inner-city latte lines" in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

    "Technology has moved on so a lot of the services that are done in what you would call the back office, or the headquarters of these three buildings in particular, could easily be done in suburban Brisbane or regional Queensland," Senator McGrath said.

    "We do have the NBN which can help communicate between such communities and I think in terms of the face-to-face interview, the ABC could certainly model what some of the private-sector news organisations are doing in terms of having a small news studio close to the CBD."

    Senator McGrath's comments followed Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack's call for the public broadcaster to move its headquarters in inner-city Sydney to regional Australia.

    "I'm sure there are plenty of empty shopfronts in Sale and Traralgon or elsewhere where the ABC could quite easily relocate to a regional centre and save themselves a lot of money and then invest that money that they've saved by not being in the middle of Sydney where they don't need to be, and be out at a regional centre," Mr McCormack said.

    "And I'm sure that the ABC could also look at some of their programming as well, invest more in regional Australia and they'd get just as good as bang for buck, and they probably wouldn't get the criticism that they receive."

    Mr McCormack said the move would save money spent on rent, despite the ABC owning the Ultimo building.

    Moving would cost more than sale proceeds, ABC says

    Answers provided to Senator McGrath from Senate estimates last year showed the Sydney office was valued at $218 million.

    A spokeswoman for the ABC said moving the Sydney office would cost more overall.

    "The centralisation of some activities in Sydney and Melbourne has occurred through a number of efficiency drives — successive rounds of funding cuts mean the ABC cannot afford to duplicate production in different centres," an ABC statement said.

    "The ABC has by far the biggest commitment to rural and regional Australia of any media organisation with 48 regional offices.

    "Under the Connecting Communities initiative, since 2017 it has created around 80 additional content roles as part of a $15.4 million annual funding boost to strengthen the ABC's coverage and services in rural and regional Australia."

    © 2019 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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