Former ABC journalist and broadcaster Kerry O'Brien has called on voters in Eden-Monaro to vote for the ABC in this weekend's by-election.

Mr O'Brien issued a personal appeal for the ABC in a statement supported by ABC Alumni and the Friends of the ABC.

He said the national broadcaster has never been under greater threat, at a time it is more relevant and more important to Australians.

The six-time Walkley award winner hosted Lateline, 7.30, Four Corners and election night coverage during his illustrious ABC career.

Here is the full text of Kerry's statement.

The ABC has never been more important or more relevant to Australians and yet it is under greater threat than at any other time in its history.

As someone who has devoted most of my professional life to public broadcasting and the high ideals of the ABC, I am appealing to voters in the Eden-Monaro by-election who share my view that the ABC is one of the most important institutions in our nation, to take this rare opportunity to send a strong, clear message to all political parties but particularly to the Government on Saturday—don’t mess with our ABC.

Nowhere has the ABC’s dedication to the Australian community been more keenly felt than during last summer’s terrible bushfires. Its daily coverage played a vital role in communicating what was happening within the worst bushfire zones minute by minute where lives were on the line, but also to the wider national audience.

We know liberal democracy is under threat around the world, and one of the cornerstones of a strong democracy—a strong, free media—is under siege. Traditional news outlets are disappearing, none more so than in regional and rural Australia.

In the circumstances there is an undeniable need for strong, independent public broadcasting that can be trusted. Yet over the past seven years there has been a sense of punishment about the Liberal National Coalition government’s approach to the ABC. Funding has been cut, and cut again, and there has been inquiry after inquiry to try to force unnecessary change on the public broadcaster.

The ABC cannot sustain further cuts. It has suffered real damage too many times from budget cuts and its future viability is now on the line. This is not about Coalition versus Labor. This is one moment in which even the most dyed-in-the-wool conservative voters can show their support for the ABC in the ballot box by registering a protest vote without threatening the government’s control of the parliament and still send a clear message that they want their ABC valued and supported, not destroyed through the death of a thousand cuts.

You can contact Kerry O’Brien here