April 27th, 2023Statewide Drive, Nicole ‘temporarily replaced’
ABC Radio has “temporarily” replaced weekday regional program Statewide Drive with Melbourne Drive.
A spokesperson said the move came after “operational reasons outside our control”.
“We are working hard to have the show back on air as soon as possible and
apologise to our regional Drive listeners for any inconvenience.”
The spokesperson said he did not have a timeframe for the return of the popular
show, hosted for many years by Malmsbury’s Nicole Chvastek (pictured above).
“I don’t have a timeframe, sorry. ‘As soon as possible’ is what I’m told. And you
can definitely say the show is returning. It hasn’t been axed!!” The spokesman said he
believed Ms Chvastek would return with the show.
In March, The Local approached the ABC with some questions after hearing
from a number of sources that the regional division was being axed after a decision
in December. A spokesperson said then that the ABC’s commitment to servicing
audiences outside the major capital cities and in regional Australia was not changing.
“The ABC has just completed a significant expansion of its regional network,
putting 60 more journalists into locations in regional Australia. These are in addition
to the 80 content roles added as part of our Connecting Communities Project
“We now have around 600 content makers working and living in regional towns
and cities, including the largest team of specialist rural reporters in the world.
“The ABC’s 58 regional bureaus provide vital services to the nation. Coverage of
local, state and national issues, significant conversations for communities everywhere
and the broadcast of crucial information during emergency events remain at the heart
of what the ABC does.
“In December, managing director David Anderson flagged plans for a restructure
of the content teams which will see the regional newsrooms become part of the ABC
News division. At that time, he expressly stated that the ABC’s deep commitment to
serving audiences in regional Australia remains strong. Details of the new structure
are currently being developed with our teams.”
A number of people have vented their anger and spoken in support of Statewide
Drive and Ms Chvastek on social media.
“So so wrong….rural people deserve rural news…bring back Nicole… Melbourne is not our domain.”
“This is terrible news. We need Nicole Chvastek on our airwaves. I wouldn’t have
thought ABC Ballarat made the decision, think it’s higher up the food chain. I’ll
contact ABC Melbourne in the first instance.”
“It is very much disregard of rural Vic. All the issues that were relevant to this
part of Victoria/Ballarat and suburbs around including our farmers who have ABC
on 100% of time will not be able to access information. It stinks. In our little village
of Clunes, Nicole’s program and Nicole are loved, listened to and trusted. Poor form
“What the hell has happened to the ABC? And this under a federal Labor government.”
“Another example of rural theft. Government happy to take regional produce,
resources and taxes but fail to invest in these communities because their voices are not
valued. Shameful decision by ABC News.”
“No way! Regional Victoria needs regional radio! Nicole was/is a great supporter
of all volunteers in our states emergency services. We need her voice!”
“We have many reasons to require regional forums to hear and to be heard. Don’t
make us the second-rate unheard country cousins ABC.”
“What hypocrites, big on supporting females in the workplace then axe one of the
best and most talented female interviewers. Maybe the big energy companies shaking
in their shiny shoes because she would not take their BS.”
“I think that we are seeing that even the ABC (thinks) regional Australia doesn’t
exist or need any regional affairs programs. I fear that anything outside of the 50
kilometres from Melbourne CBD is considered remote and unworthy.”
“Everything has to be Melbourne centric now days.”
“We aren’t interested in hearing Melbourne’s woes, that’s why we don’t live there.”
“Nicole is a (local) legend!! No way.”
Ms Chvastek could not be contacted for comment before print time.
Words: Donna Kelly | Image: Contributed