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ABC Integrity or Political Interference

By Stephen Fitz

When asked the question, Malcolm Turnbull opposed a federal corruption watchdog. Out of the same mouth came opposition to the banking royal commission. The results speak for themselves and you would have to be a moron not to see what’s going on with the Liberal Party Corporate Coalition.

When you look at the Liberal party cutting $84 million dollars from the ABC’s budget, because they didn’t like balanced editorials, you start to become a bit suspicious about the ABC board of directors sacking managing director Michelle Guthrie. In particular, in the lead up to federal elections.

On the other side of the coin, Guthrie came under intense scrutiny, during her time as managing director, for not defending the ABC against attacks from the Coalition government and from News Corp. While the ABC has been used as a punching bag by the government, staff wanted someone who could stand up and defend the ABC’s reputation as Australia’s most trusted media source.

So, we have two conflicting arguments going on here, to keep us in a state of confusion. That’s generally a tactic used by the Liberal Party and their corporate and media cohorts.

All you good journalists at the ABC – Chew on this: So, what is it… Guthrie was turfed out, so the Liberals could impose one-sided political censorship or, she was turfed out for not standing up in support of freedom of speech? Well, under a Liberal government I’ll tell you what it smells like to me.

If it was the latter, the ABC board of directors would have jumped on the opportunity to promote the ABC’s stance when it comes to free speech and editorial independence – But they didn’t! They bit their tongue and chose to cover-up the reasoning. And, once again – I’ll tell you what that smells like to me. It smells like political, corporate and MSM interference.

So, the ABC reporters and, you are believed to be the best. Willing to face imprisonment for your beliefs. Do you speak out against Guthrie’s sacking as a political manoeuvre, and put your neck on the chopping block? Or, do you zipp-it, sit on your hands, and wait and see what happens. If you are still around under a Liberal appointed managing director at least, you can play the covert game.

And, we will forget that you said you wanted someone who would defend the ABC’s reputation. A reputation the ABC’s Board of Directors has just shot to pieces.

70 comments

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  1. New England Cocky

    I LOVE MY ABC AND I VOTE!!!!!

    When I want rubbish radio or trash television I will find a commercial radio station and listen to mindless sick shock jocks venting their vindictive spleen for all and sundry. Or turn to commercial television with the “staged dramas” of building (it is not really THAT hard), or some poorly constructed soap opera the could have jumped out of 1950s radio.

    ABC RADIO FOR THE MIND!!

  2. Krista Petrauskas

    Offering a point of view
    It will be a sad day if the ABC is not supported or protected
    or sold off
    THIS IS THE PEOPLES BROADCASTER NOT THE PROPERTY OF A LNP GOVERNMENT
    We need the ABC to remain independent, funded and out of the clutches of this government

  3. Spindoctor

    That Sally Neighbour had the guts to welcome the sacking as excellent confirms that Guthrie failed both from the outset and during her tenure to defend Aunty’s core journalism strengths and really battle to retain journalism jobs. The IPA/LNP game plan to neuter the ABC before a sell off to Murdoch will continue in any case, but gain real ground if a syncophant from Sky/ Murdoch or Fairfax print tabloids is Guthries replacement. The entire board with one exception remain under suspicion as they have no media background and are from corporations, finance and organisations ostensibly diametrically opposed to ABC investigative journalism. Either the board employs rare talent with the ability to tackle the politicians head on and defend Auntys turf or a sock puppet will be installed to resume death by a thousand cuts. Either way the spotlight is on the boards next move to reveal the inner deals and lobbying. Any candidate with a Murdoch history would be publicly persona non grata. So the real hunt will be to winnow down applicants with the media talent and political smarts to face down the IPA/Murdoch LNP cronies. The next election LNP wipeout will see funding restored but until then its going to remain an unsettled pressure cookerr inside Aunty.

  4. SteveFitz

    Nicely put Spindoctor and, there’s a bit more for the bigger picture…

    CENSORSHIP – MURDOCK & THE POWER OF NEWS CORP

    You can pick this up with Anne Davies on The Guardian…

    In his farewell speech as prime minister last month, Malcolm Turnbull pointed to “an insurgency” in his own party and “outside forces in the media” as the architects of his demise. In the context of this post, if Murdock can turf a PM, he can certainly manipulate and re-direct the ABC.

    If there was any doubt at all who the media forces Turnbull was referring to, during those final minutes in the prime minister’s courtyard in Canberra, there is, after recent events, none now. Rupert Murdoch is the name firmly in the frame along with his ubiquitous News Corp empire – An organisation which is accused of playing a major role in orchestrating the removal from office of not just Turnbull but also Labour’s Kevin Rudd.

    In the case of Turnbull, he believed his Liberal colleagues had been gripped by “a form of madness” so the only way they could see to end the unrelenting internal turmoil and negative coverage in the media was to cave into it and replace him as leader.

    Rudd, equally, believes the cacophony of negativity from News Corp undermined his first prime ministership, then that of successor Julia Gillard. He has called for a “full-throated inquiry” into News Corp and branded the company “a cancer on democracy”.

    A BIG FISH IN A SMALL POND

    Australia has the world’s third-most concentrated media market after Egypt and China, according to a major international study by the US researcher Eli Noam. News Corp Australia dominates the country’s media sector, with 58% of daily newspaper circulation; a swathe of regional newspapers, the only national broadsheet, the Australian; the only pay TV network, Foxtel, which broadcasts the Murdoch-owned Sky News; and the most-viewed website, news.com.au.

    After the media ownership law changes in 2017, the industry is set to become more concentrated. Nine and Fairfax Media are merging their television and newspaper businesses, and more deals are likely. These could see News extending its influence in regional publishing and further into TV and radio.

    The argument is that Australians can get their news from websites around the world and from Facebook and Google. The problem is though that as the world opens up, the gathering of local news – whether it be national or for a capital city or a local community – is becoming more concentrated as I’ll explain that further on.

    THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE DOWNRIGHT VICIOUS

    Rudd, now out of politics, is one of the few politicians who has dared to speak out about News Corp.
    “Time and time again in cabinet I would raise the need to fully take on News Ltd as a political force in our country,” Rudd tells Guardian Australia. “The entire cabinet, including [Julia] Gillard, would say, ‘You can’t do that. They will just destroy us.’ That’s where we have got to – when an entire government thinks it’s so powerless in dealing with a force like that.”

    “Why don’t politicians speak out? Because they are frightened” – Kevin Rudd said. “Because the organisation has the capacity for comprehensive retribution.”

    A FORM OF MADNESS

    As the dust settled over the carnage in the Liberal party many began to question the role of News Corp in destabilising Turnbull’s leadership and the “form of madness” that had overtaken the party.
    “This is familiar territory, and it’s gone on many times before,” says Associate Professor David McKnight from the University of New South Wales, who has written extensively on Murdoch and how he wields political power and jumps on an opportunity to drive a storey for profit.

    “In my view, Rupert Murdoch intends to transform Australia into a conservative nation and he wants to put it on the Trump road.” “A cancer on democracy” is the verdict of Rudd. Who could forget the Daily Telegraph’s contribution to political debate on the day the election was announced? “KICK THIS MOB OUT” referring to Labour, was its front-page headline.

    Murdoc’s standard operating procedure was to go back to the conservatives who are going to do deals on industrial relations, which suits Rupert both ideologically and commercially.”

    HOW NEWS CORP INFLUENCES POLITICS IN A DECLINING PRINT MARKET

    It has been suggested that the demise of print media means newspapers – and News Corp in particular – are no longer as influential as they once were. But while print media might be losing its direct clout, news is increasingly being pushed out on other platforms.

    News Corp still controls nearly 60% of the daily newspaper sales in Australia and controls the dominant news websites in several capitals as well as the national daily broadsheet. “Newspapers achieve their agenda-setting role because they have the biggest newsrooms and every day they originate far more stories than any other news medium,” McKnight says.

    And here’s the clincher: “These stories provide the raw material for others, which includes radio shock jocks, TV talk shows, other newspapers and the Twitterati. Newspaper-generated stories are still the largest source of online news.” Keep that in mind.

    Newsrooms may be shrinking and the original reporting of issues that matter to Australians is being crimped by the dwindling resources, but it has become exponentially easier for a story to be picked up and rebroadcast, finding its way to the airwaves or social media at lightning speed.

    Here’s where the ABC comes back into the equation – It was the intention of Michelle Guthrie to archive and reference all ABC stories for instant internet access thereby competing directly with main stream media not just financially but also ideologically. So, where’s the pressure coming from to get rid of Guthrie and, change priorities within the ABC?

    A GLOBAL CONCERN

    News Corp leads the way in championing a media free of government interference and most media organisations would agree a free press is a hallmark of a democracy. But, when an organisation gets so big and powerful that politicians cower in fear, it also raises questions for democracies. The answer most countries rely on is a diversity of voices and owners. Something we see dwindling in Australia today.

    A LOCAL CONCERN

    Rudd said News’s true colours were on display during elections. “Every decade or so when it looks like the punters might be half interested in moving to a Labour government, they are more even-handed, but by and large, the operating plan is to give Labour governments hell.” And the best way to do that, Rudd said, was in denigrating the leader.

    Rudd said it was “continued open season” against himself, Gillard and now Bill Shorten. And we see that in the polls as I type this. Even staunch labour supporters have been brainwashed into believing Bill Shorten is an idiot. Who managed a clean sweep of the recent federal by-elections? Bill Shorten did so, who are the real idiots in politics and, it’s not Bill Shorten and it’s not the Labour Party.

    Pointed out above is the proposed ABC’s push to compete with MSM in the digital arena. Follow the money – News Corp wields its power to defend its interests. If politicians get in the way, they are stomped on and if an ABC managing director gets in the way they are also stomped on.

    Bill Shorten has promised a federal corruption watchdog or national ICAC, if elected – He understands the need for it – Let’s hope the electorate does.

  5. Ross in Gippsland

    The ABC is our ABC and we deserve to know the reason or reasons why Guthrie was shown the door.

    Guthrie was perceived to be a Murdoch plant whose main purpose was to destroy the ABC from within aided and abetted by the coalition government. Whether this was true or not is a mute point now but let’s not forget the Liberals voted to privatise, i.e. sell to one of their mates, the entire ABC.

    Add to that Murdoch jets into town and almost immediately both Malcolm and Michelle get a DCM (don’t come Monday).

    Less than six months out from a federal election, something smells decidedly fishy.

  6. Kaye Lee

    I think there were real problems, internal and external, with Guthrie’s handling of her role. The thing that worries me is who they will choose for her successor.

  7. Matters Not

    Re Guthrie’s successor. Maybe the problem lies with Justin Milne and his expectations re the future of the ABC. Yes he has a ‘vision’ and Guthrie was on the same page but is it attainable?

    Pointing to Amazon’s use of data to provide recommendations of what a consumer might like to read or watch next based on what they have read or watched before, Mr Milne noted “their capacity to significantly improve the odds as to what sort of shows will succeed are enhanced”.

    He added that data and analytics “can help them decide what elements scripts should have, up-and-coming actors who are likely to be a big hit tomorrow, themes that are likely to be big next year”.

    It’s not the future I want to construct. I want to be thought of as a ‘citizen’ and not as a ‘consumer’.

    I want to ‘create’ my world – not consume the creation of another.

    https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/amazon-the-model-for-abcs-new-streaming-service-as-big-data-steers-the-ship-20171115-gzliiz.html

  8. Bronte ALLAN

    I am glad to see this woman go! As a former Mudrake employee I always thought her appointment was a backwards slide for our ABC. The two things we really need for the ABC is more (not less!) government funding, & an Australian whose ideas, etc help to keep the ABC running at its best, not closing down programs, sacking people etc, as has been they way for the last few years. Until the ABC is again under a “responsible”, caring & honest leadership it will struggle to be what we always expect our ABC to be!

  9. Terence Mills

    I hear this morning that Turnbull&/or Fifield had called on ABC Chairman Milne to sack Emma Alberici after her articles pointing to some misleading government claims about the trickle down effect of corporate tax cuts.

    Evidently Milne called on Guthrie to sack Alberici who declined to do so.

    If true, this is a blatant and disturbing case of political interference in the operation of our national broadcaster.

  10. Kaye Lee

    That is outrageous Terence.

    “They hate her,” Mr Milne said in the email. “We are tarred with her brush. I think it’s simple. Get rid of her. We need to save the ABC – not Emma. There is no guarantee they [the Coalition] will lose the next election.”

    GGGRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!

  11. SteveFitz

    On “Matter of Fact” with Stan Grant last night. In the interview with former ABC journalist Quentin Dempster and Crikey publisher Eric Beecher. It was pointed out that a couple of the ABC editors or journalists are “lefties”. It was also suggested that there could have been political interference in the removal of Michelle Guthrie.

    Tuesday 25/9/2018:
    https://iview.abc.net.au/show/matter-of-fact-with-stan-grant/series/0/video/NC1805H172S00

    Australians are the owners of the ABC and the government are the custodians of the ownership and they appoint a board aimed at a dynamic mix of Australians. The current board were appointed by Abbott-Turnbull. There is no one versed in media, broadcasting, radio, television and now online within the existing board. None of them have the credentials to hire or fire anyone.

    The evidence suggests political interference in the ABC. The big question is: “Who’s interfering with the government, who’s offended by the ABC “lefties” views and, who stands to gain if the ABC is compromised?”

  12. Terence Mills

    As pointed out by former ABC Chairman, Jim Spigelman, this morning it was Tony Abbott who placed a ban on his ministers from appearing on the ABC’s Q&A. We should not forget that as it was the first outright attack on the ABC.

    It seems that as the Liberal party have moved progressively to the Right the rest of us are seen as Lefties.

    I suppose we are lucky that the most recent upheaval in the Liberal party did not give us Peter Dutton as our Prime Minister but let’s not kid ourselves that the far Right faction are done with us yet.

  13. Henry Rodrigues

    Is there anyone out there who still doesn’t believe that Murdoch and Kerry Stokes and now even the corrupt ABC under this goddamned Chairman Justin Milne, are destroying Australian democracy ???? Turdball who had carefully nurtured that false image of liberalism and bonhomie etc was just another bastard like all the others. And the media bunnies who adored and worshipped him and hung on his every word are just as contemptible as the rest. Scummo is desperate to prove he’s different but he’s such a fake, his stupid grin gives him away everytime. But that doesn’t deter Channel 7 and Murdoch’s minions, they’ve been extolling the virtues of Scummo from the word go.

  14. eefteeuu

    If the content of the Email that Fairfax has seen from Milne is true, it is obvious that political interference is, and has been occurring from this right-wing sorry excuse of a government.

    Milne should be sacked and so should Fifield.

    I hope Emma stays with the ABC, and keeps up her great work.

    If Guthrie refused to sack Emma, I worry what the next Muppet they pick will do?

  15. helvityni

    Sally Neighbour of Four Corners fame was all for sacking Ms Guthrie…?Surely that says something about why they did it…

    At least Scottie loves as all; oldies, Aboriginals, Catholics, farmers, maybe one day he’ll add the poor suicidal asylum seeker children into his fold.

  16. Kaye Lee

    I am so sick of seeing Scott put his arm around people. I would find it very intrusive.

  17. Terence Mills

    To use that adjective so beloved by politicians : Justin Milne, you position as ABC Chairman is now untenable and as a stakeholder in the ABC, I demand your immediate resignation.

    Just go, Justin !

  18. Kaye Lee

    Interesting article helvityni.

  19. paul walter

    Helvityni, you beat me to it.

    It is a sensational headline, isn’t it?

    “T’was a far, far better thing she (Guthrie) did, considering the paramount significance of the Alberici article, than she had ever done.” before (apropos of Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities and the tragic, heroic Sydney Carton).

  20. DrakeN

    Helvityni,

    The bit which resonates with me is this:

    “… a large part of the ABC’s problems lies with senior management and the board, including Justin Milne, which is dominated by business “types” with little or no understanding of public broadcasting and the role of the ABC in public culture.”

    The steady erosion of communal benefit for the advantage of a few ‘business leaders’ seems to be relentless.

    I feel that the call for Emma to be sacked reeks of commercial and political expediency rather than reasoned pragmatism; and/or a fireproofing of the Board’s collective backside.

    Good, honest analysts such as she are gems in an otherwise mundane world of economic also-rans.

    The ABC must be free to provide unalloyed information as well as balanced dissection of the activities of those who have the whip hand in public affairs.

    The ABC is fundamental to democracy in Australia.

  21. paul walter

    Yes, Drake N.

    This point was emphasized by Quentin Dempster on Stan Grant’s teev show last night.

    The list of the board and its background was desolate. So much for the board as representative of the community and the media/arts sector.

  22. SteveFitz

    Both great articles Helvityni and a clearer picture is beginning to unfold – One that speaks political interference and censorship as many suspected and, of great concern for Australian democracy.

    Paul Collins: “But it would be wrong to blame Michelle Guthrie for all the ABC’s woes. The Corporation has been under extraordinary pressure lately from a belligerent government, jumped-up hacks in the Murdoch media and on after dark Sky News” (also Murdoch). In this hothouse atmosphere editors look over their shoulders and journalists pull their punches.

    The Guardian: “ABC chairman told Michelle Guthrie to sack Emma Alberici to appease Coalition”
    “There are calls for the chairman of the ABC to resign following revelations he told Michelle Guthrie to fire economics editor Emma Alberici after the former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull complained about her reporting”.

  23. jimhaz

    I’d really like the staff member rep on the ABC Board to say something – but I suppose she cannot. Are we going to get the truth from anyone else – nah.

    At least Milne’s interest in his sack Emma email was seemingly trying to support the ABC – however there is too much sycophancy for my liking. I’m getting the impression Milne was more concerned about his grand plans than the ABC.

    I’d need to know more about Milne before I was to call for his sacking – because of my fear of an anti-ABC replacement. I do not find it that untoward that a Chairdude asks for someone to be sacked to protect a business – but in Emma’s case it would have been an unfair dismissal as the so called errors she made were quite reasonable opinions backed up by others.

  24. paul walter

    When you read the Guardian article I linked, you will see that Alberici herself was possible in trouble for criticising, inadvertently probably, a company Justin Milne was chair of a corporation, “criticised in Alberici’s…article on corporate tax” (and a mate of Turnbull)

    So when the likes of Dempster talk of “conflict of interest”, this can be taken in the literal sense.

  25. Diannaart

    The ABC Act requires that Directors must be experienced in broadcasting, communications or management, or have expertise in financial or technical matters, or have cultural or other interests relevant to the provision of broadcasting services.

    The ABC board is loaded with experts in financial and management matters, virtually zero in journalism – the closest to this being staff elected director, Jane Connors.

    The ABC Board

    Was Guthrie a Murdoch plant?

    If so, did she not push the ABC far enough to the Right?

    There may not be a paper or an E trail, but there were calls for sacking Emma Alberci, I can remember that far back.

    We may never know the truth, but with a Board of Directors lacking in real media or journalistic skills, I’m not holding my breath, we the owners of the ABC, can expect a MD with a goal towards a truly independent ABC.

  26. Kaye Lee

    the ABC staff have just passed a unanimous motion calling for Milne to step aside while an independent inquiry is held into the allegations he sought to have Alberici sacked.

    Here’s the wording from the floor of the meeting:

    That we call for an independent inquiry into the allegations that have been made in the media today, and for the chairman to stand-down in the interim while the investigation takes place. The idea behind the investigation is to secure the editorial independence of the ABC from top to bottom.

  27. guest

    Make sure you catch up with Richard Di Natale’s speech today at the National Press Club. He explodes so many of the Coalition’s pet fake policies. And Labor is not without fault as well.

    But we can see why the Coalition and its adherents hate the Greens with a passion. Just 20 or so minutes in a speech, he cuts the Coalition to bits – and offers some solutions.

  28. SteveFitz

    @ paul walter – It appears we have moved beyond Liberal Party political interference and forced censorship and, now we are moving into the shadow world of corporate and political collusion and corruption. Something rampant at a federal level under the Coalition government. As pointed out previously, Bill Shorten promised a federal ICAC when elected.

  29. Kaye Lee

    Justin Milne began his career as a filmmaker, but would later switch to the corporate world, rising to senior executive positions at dot com era start-up OzEmail – where one Malcolm Turnbull was his chairman.

    Malcolm Turnbull had purchased a stake in Ozemail in 1994 for $500,000 and sold his stake for $57 million in 1999

  30. Kaye Lee

    After leaving Telstra in 2010, “It was Turnbull, in 2013, who gave Milne his chance to re-emerge in the upper echelons of corporate Australia. The-then communications minister appointed his former underling, and close friend, as a director of NBN Co and later the ABC. In 2017, with Turnbull prime minister, Milne was elevated to chairman of the public broadcaster. “

  31. Kaye Lee

    The ABC chairman, Justin Milne, vehemently opposed moving the Hottest 100 away from Australia Day and tried to convince the ABC board to reverse the Triple J decision, saying “Malcolm [Turnbull] will go ballistic”,

  32. Diannaart

    About more female representation, there are 5 women on the ABC BoD, 3 men.

    Yet, the chairperson is a chairman; white middle aged blah, blah, blah.

    The public needs representation by a diverse range of people with integrity. Far less corporates, lawyers, politicians.

  33. paul walter

    Steve Fitz, this has been an appalling event. But for Guthrie, Milne and the government’s foot-shooting incompetence, a brief glimpse for the public who pays these people their salaries, into the Machiavellian world of public broadcasting/ broadsheet reportage sabotage would never have occurred.

    But I feel a great respect now for Emma Alberici, and can forgive Guthrie somewhat for her Sydney Carton-esque belated defence of the Tax Cuts for the rich exposure journalist Alberici.

    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….

    Just listening to this from ABC TV, Morrison is lying his guts out in denial of the mess and others have slagged Emma Alberici.

    The centrepiece of his presentation is his proposition that he knows nothing of the Milne email and that the ABC Board is “independent”, followed by attempts to divert attention to other issues.

    But a former ABC Board Chairman has claimed the situation is outrageous and that time has come for Milne to “consider his position”.

  34. paul walter

    Diannaart, the list of directors is really a document and comment on just how UN representative of the Australian community the current Toy appointed Board actually is.

    They are all stockbrokers!

  35. Kaye Lee

    This from Richard Glover, the host of ABC Sydney Drive.

    “Justin Milne is only half the story. His email implies someone gave him cause to believe ABC funding was linked to the current government getting its way. That’s the who, where and how that needs answering.”

  36. Keith

    A mechanism needs to be found to procure members of Government Boards other than being chosen by politicians.

    Chairman Milne is now compromised, he needs to resign from the ABC Board.
    Emma Alberici is a headache for the LNP as she has been able to provide information which showed how crappy the LNP policy is on tax cuts for corporations and trickle down.
    Trust the LNP at your own peril.

  37. Kaye Lee

    Sky is reporting the ALP will support a motion for an urgent Senate inquiry into the situation at the ABC, meaning Milne would be compelled to answer questions.

  38. Oscar

    Maybe give Guthrie her job back,She’ll probably do it better now.

  39. Kronomex

    Anyone else see a LNP witch hunt looming within the ABC?

  40. Max Gross

    Guthrie was a plant but has been deemed not RWNJ enough for the LNP/IPA in the lead up to a historic general election that will doubtless see the LNP “government” erased and the party itself sundered. Stay tuned, folks!

  41. paul walter

    Now that Milne has refused to resign, the Knonomex comment bears scrutiny.

  42. Terence Mills

    The question also has to be asked, why was Lateline taken off air. It was considered a ‘flagship’ current affairs program and was hosted by Emma Alberici.

    She was always hard hitting and was always well prepared and that’s probably why they hate her. But the sudden demise of Lateline was quite strange and now warrants some answers ……………

  43. Egalitarian

    Fascinating: Re Triple J. Kaye

  44. paul walter

    Yes, Terrence Mills. And the Checkout. All that money instead wasted on shit that no one would be interested in, further discrediting the ABC.

  45. paul walter

    But please, no more Guthrie.

    I deeply respect her for defending Alberici, but no, not after all this has come to light.

    I know…Alberici for ABC Generalissimo (could it be any worse?)

  46. paul walter

    Now we can get back to ignored things like the Centrelink surplus (for tax cuts for the rich?) from RoboDebting or starving welfare recipients.

  47. helvityni

    paul walter, agree, NO MORE Guthrie….

    ( at least she did not sack Emma)

  48. narcossis

    My tip:
    Milne will be dismissed or perhaps offered the option to resign on Friday. The intent is to take the spotlight of the minister(s).
    Why Friday, because the weekend will be full of AFL news stories. And by Monday there will be another government blunder to report on.

  49. Matters Not

    When it comes to the latest ABC ‘drama’, there’s lots of blame to be shared around and, needless to say, there’s lots of actors (across the political spectrum) who should accept their share of the responsibility. Take the Honourable James Spigelman for starters. Once Private Secretary to PM Gough Whitlam, Spigelman was Chair of the ABC (appointed by Julia Gillard) when Guthrie was selected. In retrospect, that was a big mistake. Guthrie had lots to recommend her – but not as Managing Director of the ABC. She was not a Murdoch ‘plant’ (as suggested by some) but simply an applicant for a rather well-paid job that was beyond her skill set. Hardly her fault.

    After Spiegelman came Justin Milne – appointed by Malcolm Turnbull – ruled over a Board largely appointed under an LNP regime. There’s no evidence that Milne knew anything about the intricacies and ethics of public administration – let alone the politics of same. (Just imagine – he documented his gross ethical indiscretions via the printed word and did so electronically so that it could be shared in the blink of an eye.)

    Yep – lots of misjudgements but lots of people to share the blame. The ducking and weaving has just begun.

  50. paul walter

    Something in the medium that breeds this sort of uniform amoral white collar culture.

  51. Diannaart

    @Matters Not

    Correct, Guthrie was an appointment of Spigelman, although her arrival timed with such placements as Tom Switzer as the coalition government worked at bringing the ABC into line with neo-con ideals. Also, Spigelman was on good terms with both sides of the political fence, as his farewell bash at the ABC indicates:

    The ABC spent almost $25,000 of taxpayers’ money on a lavish farewell party for their outgoing chairman James Spigelman, complete with Champagne and Italian beer.

    The drinks bill alone came to more than $4,000 for the function at the ABC’s Ultimo studios in Sydney, attended by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Labor predecessor Paul Keating.

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4680822/ABC-spent-25-000-farewelling-chairman-James-Spigelman.html

    I would posit the shift to the right by both the major parties brings into question the membership of the ABC board as well as many past MD’s. As Paul Walter noted, something amoral breeds in the ranks of white collar elites.

  52. New England Cocky

    Why is it that when I read Matters Not comments I get the feeling that an IPA or Liarbral unelected political hack is broadcasting comments against the best interest of Australian families?

  53. Kronomex

    It’s going to be interesting to see if Shaun Micallef can make it through to the end of the current series of Mad as Hell.

  54. SteveFitz

    I’m not the only one who sniffs the wind…

    “There was a time in the media where there was a sense of solidarity and camaraderie between organisations and between individual journalists. When News Corp decided to “go” for the ABC, and started obsessing about the ABC, and exaggerating criticism, and so many of their journalists signed up, the result of that was that emboldened the government to go after the ABC, and they went after them because they felt they had a big news organisations behind them, in their corner. And so I think that’s what encouraged the government to behave as it has”.

    — Barrie Cassidy

  55. paul walter

    And what does the government do when faced with this latest challenge?

    Faces up honestly and seeks to discover rectifies faults in process and in its own attitudes and outlook?

    Not on your nelly.

    More attacks on Alberici as “incorrect” despite the consensus support for her within the economics profession and a rabbits/carrot patch so-called inquiry where the government “investigates” itself a la Trump.

    They are still trying to deprecate Alberici as “wrong” (how long is a piece of string?), but their ideas predate feminism amongst other things, when people like Fifield would denigrate a woman like Alberici via the example set by Spencer in “Fairy Queen” as invariably, the frivolous and silly woman “Errour”, when a comment is wrong or for no better reason than it is suggested by a woman. The inference is there in Murdochist behaviors toward Emma Alberici,for example.

    I am so sick of the sickness of conservatism, derived of arrogance in ignorance and ignorance through arrogance.

    No Government it was YOU who was wrong, in your amoral expediency driven economic policy and its alibis (for theft) also in your utter conceit in believing the people would believe your fairy stories.

  56. SteveFitz

    @ Kronomex – The “rightist” Institute of Public Affairs is an independent, non-profit public policy think tank, dedicated to preserving and strengthening the foundations of economic and political freedom. And their motto: “Securing Freedom for the future.”

    Clearly that doesn’t include editorial freedom and freedom of press as they lobby strong and hard to have the ABC privatised. It would be political suicide for any political party to go down that path, as we are seeing unfold. The IPA may have played a part in where the Liberal Party find themselves right now and yet, they continue to push the same wheelbarrow full or crap.

  57. paul walter

    The IPA a modern-day elitist corporatist formation attempting to capture government on behalf of vested interests.

    It is almost the same threat to civilisation that the Nationalist Socialist Party was to Weimar Germany, eighty-five years ago.

    They are traitors to the country, to civilisation and to humanity.

  58. paul walter

    So, what is the washup?

    A muddling MG is provoked by a sexist pratt into doing the unthinkable- defending staff.

    Milne (like Turnbull) comes across as such a supercilious prick that he would test even the tolerance of an angel.

    So much born to rule stupidity arrogance emerges from all of this like a mess from a busted boil.

  59. paul walter

    Yet it seems the IPA ‘s response to rightist coercion is to call for the privatisation of Auntie.

    Can you believe these people? Talk about blame the victim.

    No. The answer is to get rid of the germs sickening a worthy beast, not the useful beast.

    Let’s see if the ABC have the naivety to include an IPA shill on tonight’s Drum panel!

  60. SteveFitz

    Spot on paul walters – I couldn’t believe it myself. The IPA are a bunch of raving loonies, more than happy to crush free speech and undermine democracy.

    Here’s a pretty good round-up of events by the GetUp team:

    In the face of overwhelming public pressure, Justin Milne has stepped down as ABC Chairman.

    This follows explosive leaks that Milne – an old mate of Malcolm Turnbull’s – tried to get two senior ABC journalists fired after their reporting angered the Government. Milne even tried to interfere in a programming change because “Malcolm would go ballistic.”

    Now, reports suggest he could be replaced by the man Tony Abbott hand-picked to gut funding at the ABC – Peter Lewis. If he is made the permanent Chair, it could be the end of the ABC as we know it.

    Survey after survey shows that people trust the ABC more than they trust the major political parties – put together. People power has mobilised to protect the ABC before – and we’ve just seen an outpouring of public pressure over political interference bring down the ABC Chair.

    Now, with this story all over the news, and the shaky Morrison Government backed into a corner, they’ll have to listen to a huge public outcry. Let’s call on the Morrison Government to appoint a new Chair of the ABC, who is truly independent, to fight back against their attacks on our ABC.

    The Coalition have politicised the ABC at every turn – publicly attacking journalists and management, gutting the ABC’s funding, with some MPs even calling for our public broadcaster to be privatised. And now we have shocking allegations that former ABC Chair Justin Milne was an agent of government pressure on multiple occasions.

    He asked the ABC Managing Director to “shoot” Political Editor Andrew Probyn after he angered the Turnbull Government and, following backlash against senior economics reporter Emma Alberici’s critique of the corporate tax cuts, emailed again to say, “[The government] hate her… Get rid of her.”

    This sort of cronyism is the stuff of tinpot dictatorships, not thriving democracies – and it can’t be allowed to stand. The new permanent Chair must be someone who will defend against political interference, not participate in it.

    One of the worst attacks against the ABC has been the massive $337 million in funding cuts. Now, it turns out that the man who led Tony Abbott’s “efficiency review” to spearhead those cuts could be the new Acting Chair of the ABC.

    How can we expect him to stand up to further funding cuts, let alone restore full funding to the ABC? Already, Lateline and Catalyst have been axed, four episodes of Four Corners were delayed, and the news budget has been cut to the bone.

    We need a truly independent Chair for our ABC who will stand up for ABC journalists and reporting, and fight for a fully funded public broadcaster. Decisions will have to be made quickly, so we need to build the public outcry now, while all eyes are watching.

    This week respected journalists Barrie Cassidy, Mike Carlton and Quentin Dempster slammed the government for interfering with our national broadcaster and the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance unanimously voted for an independent inquiry into political interference at the ABC. It’s time for everyday people to add their voices to the chorus and send the message: We won’t stand for political cronies running our ABC.

    https://www.getup.org.au/

  61. Adrianne Haddow

    Treat yourselves and watch Shaun McCalleff’s ‘Mad as Hell’ this week.

    He superbly challenged the RWNJ’s, the Barnaby saga, and the rest of the enemies of the ABC. True independent reporting dressed up as comedy.
    I bet the complaints department of the ABC is working overtime dealing with the Lib ministers complaints about his show today.
    Fifield’s probably having a conniption. Any attempt at censoring will be way too obvious, given the last few days.

    I laughed myself silly.
    We really have a deplorable bunch of f’wits sitting in government. All working way beyond their skillset.

  62. helvityni

    Adrianne Harrow, watched it and loved it, and might watch it again on iView…

  63. paul walter

    I was near enough right as to the Drum panel.

    Donald Macdonald and Judith Sloane.

    The rest were a bit conservative also, but refused to budge when hectored by Sloane. Nor was Baird fooled.

  64. helvityni

    ….yes, the Drum was pretty good; it was brilliant of Julia to show us the clip of Sloane a couple of years ago…I can’t stand that woman…

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