Senator Pauline Hanson has backed down on threats One Nation would block budget measures unless ABC funding is slashed by $600 million over four years.
In a statement on Wednesday, Senator Hanson said it would not be in the nation’s best interests to block policy despite what she claims is “regular displays of bias” from the national broadcaster.
One Nation is threatening to vote against key budget measures unless the federal government slashes funding for the ABC.
One Nation whip Brian Burston says the party wants the public broadcaster’s allocation reduced by $600 million over four years.
“It’s about time we took a stand against the ABC because if it’s us and they destroy us, what is it next, the government?” Senator Burston told The Australian on Wednesday.
The ultimatum comes after the ABC broadcast a leaked recording in which One Nation leader Pauline Hanson appears to acknowledge a $106,000 Jabiru plane was donated by Victorian property developer Bill McNee.
The minor party would only consider supporting a planned hike in the Medicare levy designed to fully fund the national disability insurance scheme, because it didn’t want disabled Australians to be “held to ransom”.
When asked whether the government would be blackmailed by One Nation, Communications Minister Mitch Fifield told ABC radio: “We have a range of legislative measures before the parliament and we put them forward and ask our colleagues to consider those on their merits.”
Three-year funding for the ABC was established in the 2016 budget, he said.
Labor senator Murray Watt, who has been pursuing One Nation over alleged electoral infringements, was scathing of the threat and demanded Senator Hanson make a full public statement.
“She can’t keep hiding from these questions forever,” he told reporters in Canberra.