A new federal government budget says it will cut $1 billion to ABC Australia by 2018.
Treasurer Scott Morrison announced the cuts on Thursday and he said they would be delivered over the next four years.
“The ABC will be less effective in providing valuable and reliable news to Australians across the country,” Mr Morrison said in a statement.
“We will be reducing its funding by $1 million over the coming four years, and we will be ensuring that it will have a stable financial position.”
The ABC will also lose $800,000 per annum, as well as the “broadcasting rights” to other ABC stations.
It will also see the ABC lose a number of current staff, including its editor-in-chief, senior producers and chief operating officer.
ABC newsreader Scott Murray has also been laid off.
The broadcaster said the cuts will save the ABC $300 million over four years and it would provide a stable source of news for the ABC’s audiences.
The ABC has been under pressure to cut its costs amid the state of the news industry and amid criticism that the broadcaster is not doing enough to protect workers.
The government said the ABC would be “the first and only Australian broadcaster to receive a significant cut in funding”, and said it would make a commitment to make savings of up to $700 million over five years.
It is the first time the government has committed to cutting the ABC in such a way.
In March, the ABC reported it would be losing $2.4 million to $2 billion over four and a half years, while other broadcasters including ABC News, News Corp, and Fairfax Media were facing similar cuts.
ABC News’ John Reid said on Wednesday the ABC was struggling to compete with the ABC and News Corp and the Government’s “unprecedented” move would mean less ABC coverage.
“There’s no doubt that there’s an unprecedented degree of uncertainty, as to how many people, what type of news is going to be produced,” Mr Reid said.
“What you’re going to have to decide is how much you’re willing to pay to be the first news outlet that will be the only one that you can rely on for your news.”
The Government said it had no intention of taking the ABC to court over the cuts.
“This Government is not in any way targeting the ABC or the ABC Network,” Mr Abbott said.
Mr Morrison told reporters on Wednesday: “The government has a commitment in this budget to make significant savings to the Australian economy and it will deliver these savings in the four years to 2018.”
He said the $1bn was a cut in the “penny” of ABC Australia, which he said would be less than $1 per person.
“That means that the ABC will have an additional $800 million a year to make up for the funding that will have been cut,” he said.
The budget includes a $1,500 GST rebate for households and businesses.
It also gives ABC News and ABC Local an extra $2 million a week.
Mr Murray, who is also the ABC News editor-at-large, said he was “deeply disappointed” by the news.
“It’s an insult to all Australians who believe in our independence, who want to have access to the truth, who have to know when we are doing things right,” he told ABC News Breakfast.
“I’m deeply concerned that we will not be able to provide the content that the Australian public needs to make informed decisions about the future of the ABC.”