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Day to Day Politics: You bet I’m angry.

Wednesday 20 June 2017

Understanding the conservative’s desire to eliminate a state-owned broadcaster is as simple as ABC. Conservatives don’t believe in state ownership of anything. They believe private enterprise and competition is the best way for all businesses.

It’s the same with health. They believe, philosophically, that individuals should fend for themselves and pay for any health service required through a private service.

That they do is simply a convenience or necessity of politics. A rule they break when politics demands it so.

The ABC was founded on 2 July 1930. Its purpose was to ensure that audiences had reasonable access to a range and high standard of radio services. The ABC was based on the BBC model and was originally funded by a combination of licence fees and some government funding. The ABC’s early services included twelve radio stations across the country offering live music, sport and information programs for 11 hours a day. It was quickly embraced by Australian households and became a fixture of daily life for many.

Well over the years it has done more than that. It has become a national institution performing much better in both programming and digital media than its commercial counterparts.

People in country areas find it essential in the function of their daily existence. It offers services far beyond those provided by the commercial stations both in television and radio.

By the way, have you heard a National Party MP defend it since the Liberals overwhelmingly voted at last weekend’s talkfest to sell it? Yes, break it up and sell it, they voted with capitalistic eagerness.

After the vote, senior members ran around saying “never, never” even though the vote was overwhelmingly to do so.

Even though they were high-ranking MPs and Senators, who could foresee the quicksand they were walking into, they are also members of the IPA from which the idea has its genesis.

One of them was the mercurial Scott Morisson who shouted with heightened blood pressure that the Government would never privatise our ABC but then suggested the broadcaster should “demonstrate to the Australian people that they are acting impartial and unbiased”.

In an article headed “The ABC is an indulgence we can no longer afford” by the NSW Young Liberals leader Harry Stutchbury (son of Mike) presents a case for selling off the ABC totally based on the capitalistic reason of profit. Nowhere could I find a cost for the maintenance of community standards and our taxes contributing toward it.

It’s rather like we should all accept that there is a cost to the maintenance of our general health but we shouldn’t have to pay for the maintenance of the planet.

He goes onto say that:

“The truth is that the ABC was designed for a bygone era, founded in the context of an underdeveloped media market, before TV, before radio matured and before the internet.”

What utter poppycock.

The truth is that the ABC is designed for the modern era. The ABC put to shame the commercial stations in developing the streaming technology to come up with iview, and what a success it has been.

If the Coalition were to win the next election, and particularly if Fifield were to retain the communications portfolio, then given their record of withdrawing funds from the ABC you can be certain that a death by a thousand cuts would take place.

Michael Pascoe writes:

“Yet we can expect further ABC budget cuts and more perfidious complaints about ABC reports and programs. On the current trajectory, Senator Fifield will soon be Apostrophe Man, protesting about ABC punctuation errors.”

Phil Manning wrote in yesterdays edition of The Monthly today that if re-elected, the Coalition “will be under pressure from an emboldened base” to move to privatise the ABC – if not via a sale, perhaps by tender, as Bernard Keane writes today in Crikey, as a step towards destroying the organisation.

The ABC has been attacked from both sides for as long as I can remember. Hawke and Keating were forever at them. Abbott treated it like his own personal punching bag. Enquiry after enquiry has been called (both internal and independent) with never a case to answer.

Bolt and other low-lifes have accused it, without any proof, of every bias imaginable. The Bolts of this world would never withstand the sort of obnoxious insults hurled at the ABC. That’s why the rag he writes for is at the bottom of the list of most trusted media outlets and the ABC IS THE MOST TRUSTED.

An observation

“It is a pity that fact in journalism cannot be made compulsory and decency legislated.”

The decision by the Federal Council is but one of many we will see if Turnbull wins. He may think that he would gain power for his position as Prime Minister but in essence, it will be a victory for the Trumpian right-wingers who happen to be older right wing nut cases, be they media tarts like Jones or nutter politicians like Andrews, Abbott and Abetz.

The apprentices – Andrew Hastie, Zed Seselja, Michael Sukkar and Alan Tudge may well think they have become fully qualified.

An observation

“In the information age, those who control the dissemination of news have more power than government.”

Now that the Liberals have made this decision and the Nationals by their silence (even though once again like the NBN it is their constitutes who will be affected most) must presumably agree, it must be legitimate for Labor to take them to task over the decision. Yet another on a very long list.

Yesterday the ABC boss Michelle Guthrie gave a decent return of serve to the Liberal Party, the IPA and other Trumpian types saying that the ABC would never be a “punching bag for political and vested interests, and labelled the attacks as cynical, misplaced and ignorant.”

She is altogether correct.

My thought for the day

“Governments who demand the people’s trust need to govern transparently to acquire it.”

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  1. johno

    Well said John and also to Kaye’s earlier post. I use the abc online news service all the time now. Before that, always abc or sbs on television.

  2. Arthur Tarry

    Conservative politicians say they will never privatise the ABC. Haven’t we heard the proclaimation ‘never’ before from these people. Privatise they may not but what is sure is that they will continue to bully it by fair means and foul.

  3. Keith

    Exactly right Arthur, the promises of the LNP are worthless.
    Without the ABC our TV would be turned off.
    Some LNP members are stating that the ABC will never be privatised; but, an email from the Labor Party displays just how unreliable such comments are:

    “The Turnbull Government has just voted against a motion in Parliament to keep the ABC in public hands.

    This is on top of the Liberal Federal Council’s vote on the weekend to support the privatisation of the ABC, as well as their refusal to reverse their $83.7 million cut in this year’s budget ….”

    Incidentally, I’m not a member of the Labor Party.

  4. Denis Hay

    Governments seem to be highly attracted to privatisation, particularly the LNP. Here is a link to a research article that that shows the evidence does not support the view that there is any systematic difference in efficiency between public and private sector companies. It goes on to say that growth in public spending as a proportion of the economy has had a persistent positive link with GDP growth for more than a century. Here is the link:

  5. John

    If the Liberals can sell the ABC for $1 it would be a good result for their minders. With no publicly-funded scrutiny of private enterprise the economy will soon be controlled by the most corrupt telling us how it is and how it should be. The neo-con vision is an open-slather interpretation of dysfunctional living with no real checks and balances for the environment and social interactions to be guided by a studious avoidance of any compassion policy settings.
    The 1%ers will of course be exempt from this ongoing game of ‘Shaft the Public’.
    Selling the ABC has nothing to do with topping up Treasury or creating competition.
    It is all about removing the last vestige of negative feedback in the system.

  6. wam

    great read this morning, Mr Lord, loved the passion.
    Privatising is a mantra of the ‘haves’ The driving force is the indeterminate word ‘competition’. It is visible, at the pump, that competition between oil companies works?

    Little johnnie sold Telstra for about what it makes today. (has T2 made it yet??) The effect on Australian jobs was traumatic and another 8000 going.

    As a non-investor and people’s choice user. we have, largely, escaped the ravages of the banks and the trauma of share diving. (Although my salary sacrifice of a casual job in 07 was frozen but the fees weren’t.) however we contribute enormously to telstra. Remember the outcry when our telstra tried to introduce timed local calls? Wow what are we paying for a connection to an engaged phone or being 1 second over??

    The criticism of the ABC comes from the conservatives fear of criticism. Trump and Hanson show the petulance in replying to criticism. Trump’s reaction to UN criticism of his walmart investment in child welfare is to quit not the abuse but from the human rights. Sacked for doing their job is the fear employers use to hide sharp practice and the punishment for ‘whistle blowers’.

  7. paul walter

    The Goldman Sachs types who raped Telstra are the same people who want the ABC silenced.

    People have to realise what tax cuts for corporations really are and where they fit into the vacuum cleaner effect for bleeding this and other countries dry.

    People have to realise that the money that would have kept those jobs went offshore instead. It was only ever a filch, Telstra is the new Holdens.

  8. Phil

    The Liberal Party stands for so much – for example, private greed, climate denial, dead coral reefs, huge holes in the ground, extinct fauna, SERCO, burgeoning private prisons – the list goes on to infinity. Near the top of that list is the Liberal’s sneering anti-intellectualism.

  9. Ross in Gippsland

    Conservative governments know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.
    The ABC is sacrosanct and they know it, hence the denials and massive back peddling.
    Nothing to see here it’s just the usual weekly LNP cock up.

  10. Chris Rand

    “we will never sell the ABC”. Weasel words, they won’t sell it they will strangle it then shut it down

  11. etnorb

    We MUST never believe that the effing liberal bastards will not sell our ABC & our SBS! After all, they are always guided by the inept, lying bloody IPA mob, many of the party are already members. If any one can read the IPA manifesto, they are all about destroying anything the government currently runs or has in progress, such as, Welfare, Medicare, the ABC & the SBS etc, the list goes on alarmingly! BASTARDS, the lot of them! It is bad enough we have one of Mudrake’s discards as the Chairperson of the ABC, & all the damage etc she has already done, now we have the bloody inept, lying, flat earth, right wing, obscenely over-paid so-called liberal party wanting to sell off the ABC & SBS, WTF??

  12. Kronomex

    Anyone get the feeling that Michelle Guthrie will be removed the ABC if she keeps going the way she is at the moment? How dare she do the job she was put in there to do in the first place. Just look at poor Erica Abetz (as usual, whinging and bitching about the ABC) and the way the nasty biased ABC treat him like an ordinary politician.

    Of course it’s not about her, Kelly O’Dwyer, she’s one of the privileged pedestal dwellers with the inbuilt right to rule. She’ll mouth words that mean little to nothing and just continue on with her piggy snout in the trough.

  13. jimhaz

    What may be occurring is a gambit play to soften up the population not for the sale of the ABC, but for the ABC to start playing ads, so as to make it a lot less attractive viewing experience.

    They may think the masses will except the “lesser of two evils” option. Come to think of it does the LNP virtually always present a lesser of two evils form of blackmail in parliament.

  14. Harry

    jimhaz: you might be right. The “privatise the ABC” campaign floated by the IPA and the Young Liberals could be a kite flying exercise. Well the kite has been flown and shot down but the voters may now utter a sigh of relief if ads were introduced as avoiding privatisation/breakup. Not that I think the Coalition would stop at that!!

    The introduction of ads on SBS (which of course does not have the same general role/appeal as the ABC) may be instructive: they began by ads during breaks but over a few years the ads began to appear during programs.

    Bill MItchell has demolished Harry Stutchbury opinion piece which appeared in The Age and the SMH in his blog today:

    Do not privatise the Australian Broadcasting Commission

  15. Matters Not

    Re the ABC:

    let’s call the demand from last weekend’s Liberal Party Conference for what it really is: effectively a proposal to close the ABC and sell off its assets – the prime of which would be its broadcast spectrum …

    there would be little or no appetite from the commercial television sector for starters. … Free TV, which represents the commercial stations, has frequently opposed moves to see the ABC accept advertising because the revenue would have to come at the expense of its members.

    Note well: revenue would have to come at the expense of its members. No way the commercials would tolerate ADS going on the ABC.

    So, while the ABC is unlikely to be sold, it seems we are nonetheless witnessing a philistine-like movement that seeks to diminish the sources of broad and innovative content creation … However, it would be naive to think that the wicked genie is back in the bottle. We can expect to see more attacks on the ABC in future. No doubt SBS will be dragged into the debate too

    LAURIE PATTON. You can’t privatise an organisation that doesn’t make a profit!

  16. Andrew Smith

    I’d bet that the ABC has more eyeballs and especially ears offshore, the latter through RN’s great repository of podcasts, for Australians and the world. What could be wrong with that, conservatives afraid of Australia being presented in a relatively fair and balanced way to the world versus acting (and being uncovered) as corporate and/or nativist losers following the worst of the Anglo world?

  17. Stephen G B

    Great passion on display Mr Lord, and rightly so.

    ABC, SBS, Universal health care (Medicare), these are the avowed enemies of the LNP, but particularly this LNP, who are certainly not Liberal in any shape or form but pure Tory, each member believing in the Right to rule by those with power accumulated in dollars!

  18. johno

    So unaustralian of the IPA party, whoops I mean the LNP party for shafting the ABC.

  19. DrakeN

    The hatred of the ABC by the “Liberal” side of politics is generated by a constant fear of exposure of their nefarious activities and the outright mendacity in their daily dealings.
    Likewise, they tremble at the thought that a broad based Federal ICAC with extensive powers might at some time be created.
    Just think how the private prisons industry would directly benefit from such an investigative body 😉

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