Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Abbott's Efficiency Dividend Lie

In calling his $254 million cut to ABC funding an "efficiency dividend", it's finally clear that Prime Minister Tony Abbott has no idea what he is talking about.

We all know what Abbott said in the lead up to the 2013 election: "No cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS." It's a list of promises that he's steadily broken, one by one, and with each broken promise he's tried to weasel out of what he explicitly said.

So when it was announced that funding for the ABC would be slashed by $254 million, Abbott claimed that it wasn't in fact a cut; it was an "efficiency dividend".

"Everyone knew that there was going to be an efficiency dividend right across the government," he said. Apparently we should have known better.

Even Abbott's mini-me, Christopher Pyne, has weighed in. Despite launching a petition to save the ABC's production facilities in South Australia, Pyne accused the ABC of hiding behind the cuts and using a "modest efficiency dividend" to centralise their operations in the eastern states. Yes, he blamed the ABC for the cuts.

But are the cuts actually an efficiency dividend? The answer is no.

An efficiency dividend, according to the government's own website, is "an annual reduction in funding for the overall running costs of an agency." The justification is that inputs can be cut to match productivity increases, without changing the level of output.


If this was actually an efficiency dividend, there would be no programming changes. No shows cancelled. No mergers of state-based bulletins. None of that. The level of output would not change.

But it IS changing.

So it isn't an efficiency dividend. And Abbott's own internal nemesis, Malcolm Turnbull, agrees.

So many lies.