Vendetta Against the ABC Needs to Stop!

In our May/June 2018 issue, I made the gentle point that, when it came to our Government-owned broadcasters, constructive ideas were needed, not cheap, partisan point-scoring. Now, I’m just going to say, “You idiots!”

June’s Liberal Party Federal Council meeting saw a vote called by Council Delegate Mitchell Collier to sell off the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Mr Collier’s motion said, “That federal council calls for the full privatisation of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, except for services into regional areas that are not commercially viable.”

 He went on to say, “There are several ways we could privatise the ABC – we could sell it to a media mogul, a media organisation, the government could sell it on the stock market.

“Privatising it would save the federal budget $1 billion a year, could pay off debt and would enhance, not diminish, the Australian media landscape.”

No-one spoke against the motion when it was put to delegates. Communications Minister Mitch Fifield, who was present, had to be prompted by Liberal Party Federal President, Nick Greiner, into commenting on the motion.

His response? A feeble, “It’s not the position of the Government to alter the ownership position of the public broadcasters.”

Reportedly, Mr Collier’s motion was carried almost 2:1.

Mr Collier is Federal Vice President of the Young Liberals, and his motion smacks of the type of inexperienced ideological zealotry, and obliviousness to real-world consequences, normally found in campus politics – of any persuasion.

But, where a lot of this anti-ABC sentiment is coming from is conservative, Melbourne-based thinktank, the Institute of Public Affairs. Indeed, if measured by the number of times its “experts” are quoted in The Australian newspaper (also not a fan of the ABC), one could be forgiven for thinking it was the only conservative thinktank in Australia.

With its catch-cry of “Securing Freedom for the Future”, the IPA has published a manifesto, Against Public Broadcasting. Why We Should Privatise the ABC and How to Do It. The IPA is also, apparently, an arbiter of comedy.

In the Monday, June 11, 2018, edition of The Australian, IPA Research Fellow, Matthew Lesh, was quoted as saying, “The problem with [comedy programme] Tonightly isn’t that it’s got too many white men, it’s that it’s just not funny.”

He was, of course, being quoted for yet another Murdoch-press article on “political madness gone-mad at the ABC”. A burning issue in a country where adequate broadband is still problematic for many, and drought an existential crisis for many others (not adequately served by commercial media).

It should also be mentioned that Minister Fifield is, himself, a member of the Institute of Public Affairs.

Now, I don’t propose to list the many positives of the ABC, but I will highlight some things the ABC has not done.

•It has not blatantly, and without attribution, reused material from another network’s flagship current affairs programme;

•Its news anchors have not crossed to a reporter standing in front of a barbed-wire fence in the carpark out the back, making out he was reporting from the scene of riots in Bangkok; and

•Its reporters have also not sat in a helicopter with the engine running pretending they were above the scene of the search for a missing schoolboy.

 One could also ask the many people at the TEN Network whose jobs were saved by investment from US-based CBS how they may have faired with a privatised ABC on the scene.

And, lastly, it seems incongruous that Australia would make a desperate attempt to provide Pacific Island Nations with high speed Internet access to prevent a Chinese company from doing so and, yet, preside over de-funding of ABC overseas radio services whose frequencies are now used by China.

My message to all – sort it out, logically, rationally, and impartially.

Thanks for reading