Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese says the party will restore $84 million cut from ABC funding if it wins the next federal election.
His comments came after the ABC announced it would cut up to 250 jobs to deal with the budget shortfall.
Mr Albanese said a future Labor government would restore the funding.
“The ABC is an essential service and we saw during the bushfires that the ABC literally saved lives — it was the one source of communication that people could rely upon,” he said.
“It’s vital for regional Australia and it’s important that it be funded at an appropriate level.
“We will put additional money, that money, back into the ABC budget because it’s what Australians expect.”
The federal government imposed a three-year indexation pause on ABC funding in 2018.
That left the ABC with a shortfall because its funding no longer kept pace with inflation.
Mr Albanese said the cuts would affect audiences in all parts of the country.
“It’s a precious national asset and it should be funded appropriately,” he said.
“There’s less news bulletins, for example, going out at a quarter to eight every morning — something that people have relied upon for their whole lives, something that’s been a part of who we are.”
Labor’s announcement comes just days before the Eden-Monaro by-election.
The electorate was ravaged by bushfires over summer and the Opposition’s candidate in the seat, Kristy McBain, shot to prominence as the mayor of the Bega shire during the ordeal.
Liberal candidate Fiona Kotvojs was also involved in the bushfire campaign, as a volunteer with her local RFS brigade.
Labor’s commitment echoes its platform in the lead-up to the 2019 federal election.
The Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher have repeatedly rejected suggestions the ABC’s funding has been cut, arguing the public broadcaster’s funding increases yearly for the next three years.
In a statement last Friday ABC Chair Ita Buttrose took issue with the assertion.
“It is true that over the three years the ABC budget does still increase, but by a reduced amount, due to indexation on the fixed cost of transmission and distribution services,” she said.
“Previously, it was rising by a further $83.75 million over the same three years for indexation on our operational base.
“This is the funding that has been cut and considered a saving by the government.”