ABC boss David Anderson resists call to move Southbank Ultimo offices


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Mr Anderson told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that selling the Ultimo premises and building new offices would be a “multi-year project” that would cost “hundreds of millions” of dollars.

“We’re not in a position to do that,” he said. “You don’t save money moving house.”

He said the broadcaster had reviewed its property holdings, including the Ultimo site that is the portfolio’s most valuable, and the sale of some of the real estate assets could be a consideration in future but he had not been approached by developers.

The ABC sold property in Melbourne’s Elsternwick in 2019 and has been leasing out floors in its Adelaide offices.

Western Sydney Business Chamber executive director David Borger said it was “great” that Mr Fletcher had suggested the ABC consider moving out of the city, adding that Britain’s BBC moved divisions from London to Manchester in 2011.

“That has become a whole hub for that city and it showed the national broadcaster was not focused on the inner city,” Mr Borger said.

“[The ABC] could go in a number of places but Parramatta has got the public transport connectivity and developing connectivity,” he said, noting Liverpool and Bankstown were also possible options.

The ABC took staff on a trip to Bankstown in September as part of an effort to diversify its coverage and be more relevant to everyday Australians.

The broadcaster will also launch a western Sydney newsroom in Parramatta this month with a small number of staff.

“Rents would probably be half what they are in inner-city Sydney. It would be great to have media jobs in western Sydney,” Mr Borger said.

However, Labor communications spokeswoman Michelle Rowland said the recommendation to move was “all about cuts” and she described it as a “veiled threat”.

Labor had previously proposed to conduct a feasibility study to relocate SBS, which she said was about “investment in multicultural western Sydney” and the broadcaster was promised additional funding for Australian content and audio description.

The suggestion to relocate the ABC was slammed by former prime minister Paul Keating on Tuesday as showing “ideological contempt” for the public broadcaster.

A 2014 efficiency review into the public broadcasters suggested that the SBS and ABC could share premises and facilities in an effort to cut costs.

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A spokeswoman for the SBS said its efficiency was “well documented” and extended to its office locations.

“This has been strengthened in recent years by outsourcing heavy infrastructure and implementing agile working, delivering best-in-class ratio in square footage per person,” she said.

“There is no compelling case that the cost or operational disruption caused would benefit our audiences.”

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