UPDATE, 2.58pm: South Coast MP Shelley Hancock has weighed into the ABC decision to close its Nowra office.
Mrs Hancock said regional journalism was paramount in communicating with local residents and the more local the source, the better communication.
“I am extremely disappointed that this decision has been made,” Mrs Hancock said.
“Whilst I am pleased there appears to be no job losses within our region, we have lost a major asset with the closure of the Nowra ABC office meaning the Shoalhaven will no longer have a physical ABC presence,” she said.
“Staff based within the Nowra ABC office, particularly our own Ainslie Drewitt-Smith, are extraordinarily professional with this decision undoubtedly limiting their impact to report on local events and current affairs within the Shoalhaven.
“All our local journalists do an amazing job and despite us not seeing eye-to-eye on every occasion their role is essential in conveying messages to local residents, either in times of crisis or to report the events of the day.
“I will be seeking a response from the Federal Minister as well as the Federal Member, urging them to intervene in the decision made by ABC Managing Director and Chairman Mark Scott to close Nowra and other regional services.”
Labor candidate for South Coast Fiona Phillips has also condemned the closure.
“This is political treachery at its best. No cuts to the ABC? Clearly Tony Abbott was lying and our South Coast is very much affected”, Mrs Phillips said.
“Yet again, we see Tony Abbott unleashing cuts that are deeply damaging to our South Coast and Mike Baird and the Liberal Member for South Coast are failing to stand up to him. Liberals at every level of government on the South Coast should be totally ashamed of what Tony Abbott is doing to the ABC and the resulting closure of the ABC Nowra office”,
UPDATE, 2.28pm: Ann Sudmalis has written an open letter to ABC managing director Mark Scott, describing the closure of the Nowra office as "deplorable".
Here is the full text:
Dear Mr Scott,
I believe that your decision to close the Nowra office of the ABC is deplorable.
While I know that every Australian Government department has been required to find savings, I should not need to explain to you that the first responsibility of the Managing Director of the ABC is to the regional and remote areas of Australia.
I do not always have favourable reporting from the ABC, but I don’t cry bias, because I know that at the very heart of these regional reporters is the motivation to fairly reflect the views and events of locals from across the country.
I think the decision to close the Nowra office of the ABC is appalling, as it seems that management has taken the easy way out, targeting rural and regional services, rather than truly examining the economies of the metropolitan service base and bureaucracy.
If this closure goes ahead, it will be almost geographically impossible for the ABC to cover, in person, local news events between Nowra and Moruya on the NSW South Coast.
Please do what most other broadcasters have already done, and sit with your regional teams and acknowledge that it is their work that is most respected in terms of true journalism rather than the pen-pushing administrators in city based offices.
Once that has been done, I look forward to the redesign of the ABC’s ‘belt-tightening’ efforts that are currently about to impact our local ABC services.
Ann Sudmalis MP (Mrs)
Federal Member for Gilmor
UPDATE: 1.33pm: Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis says she will fight the closure of the ABC's Nowra office.
“I am a great supporter of our local ABC, and will not stand by and let the Nowra office of the ABC be closed without a fight,” Mrs Sudmalis said.
“I will today be seeking an urgent meeting with Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull in order to deliver this strong message.
“I will also be writing to ABC Managing Director Mark Scott urging him to look elsewhere for savings. There is no reason why Nowra should be on the chopping block of ABC management.
“The ABC will receive $5.2 billion dollars in government funding over the next five years, down from just $5.5 billion previously, and any savings should be able to be found from learning from other broadcasters’ practices in outsourcing administrative functions and divesting surplus assets, and through greater cooperation such as joint purchasing – not through blindly abandoning regional and rural news coverage.
“I will not let this closure happen without a fight,” Mrs Sudmalis said.
UPDATE: 1.04pm: Shoalhaven Mayor Joanna Gash says she will write to ABC managing director and chairman Mark Scott to seek an explanation of the decision to close the broadcaster's Nowra office.
She said she would also make representations to Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis.
"I think we need to have that presence here. The more media we have in the region, the better it is for everyone," Cr Gash said.
"I've always been very supportive of the ABC. In fact, I had my first radio training with Peter Riley in Wollongong.
"I think the ABC people we've had here in Nowra have been exceptional."
Cr Gash said she couldn't understand why ABC management had chosen to make cuts to its regional service when its presence in metropolitan was already so strong.
With the closure of its Nowra outpost, the ABC will have no presence between Wollongong and Bega. A staff member who spoke to the Register said this meant it be extremely difficult to cover news and events at the local level.
A tweet from ABC Illawarra journalist Nick McLaren has confirmed what staff had feared - that the Nowra office will close.
It is understood the announcement was made in a meeting in Wollongong. No mention was made of staffing cuts and staff hope Nowra-based journalist Ainslie Druitt-Smith will be redeployed.
The cut has come after the ABC was told to trim its budget by 5 per cent across the board. Also to go are the weekly state based editions of current affairs show 7.30.
Cuts are also being made to Lateline.
We will have more details as they come to hand..