Cuts to undermine Australia’s reach
IN September 2016, New Caledonia and French Polynesia joined the Pacific Islands Forum, further linking the francophone Pacific territories with their anglophone neighbours. In February 2017, Radio Australia (RA) will end its French language service for the Pacific. Great timing! At the same time, ABC International – the overseas service of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) – will end its shortwave radio broadcasting to the Pacific.
The closure of shortwave will also affect remote indigenous communities in the Northern Territory. These decisions, taken at a time of tightening budgets for Australia’s national broadcaster, are yet another sign of the lack of commitment to Pacific neighbours by the largest member of the Forum.
In his remarks to the 2016 Forum leaders meeting in Pohnpei, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull pledged: “My Government recognises that Australia’s interests in the region and the complexity of the challenges we face demands more engagement at every level, more integrated policy and fresh ideas. We are committed to a step-change in our engagement, to be guided by a new Pacific strategy.”
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