Labor Budget Blooper on SBS funding

Monday, 24 May 2010

A Labor Budget Blooper on SBS funding was exposed today in Senate Estimates.

The Budget documents appear to have “inadvertently” revealed commercial-in-confidence funding for SBS for satellite services to deal with digital TV blackspots.

Budget Paper Number 2 on page 117 states that “the expenditure for the national broadcasters (for digital TV switchover – regional blackspots solution) is not for publication (NFP) as contracts with satellite service providers are commercial-in-confidence.”

However, the Portfolio Budget Statements 2010-11 document for the Communications portfolio on page 142 reveals that $5.003 million has been provided to the SBS in 2010-11 for Digital Television Switchover – Regional Blackspots Solution.

It would appear that funding that is not revealed in one Budget document because it is “commercial-in-confidence,” is exposed for all to see in another Budget document.

This looks like extraordinary incompetence on the part of the Labor Government, which could seriously compromise SBS in its commercial dealings with satellite service providers.

The Government needs to explain how such a significant mistake could occur in the Budget documents, and what action it will take to deal with the consequences.