One of the most refreshing comments made by newly appointed Senator Tim Storer was that he would judge each piece of legislation on its merits and would not be horse-trading.
That, of course, would require him taking the time to read the legislation and having the capacity to understand it, unlike Pauline Hanson who can be fooled into supporting anything if you throw her a bone.
In order to gain Pauline’s support for weakening media ownership laws, Turnbull agreed to have a review into the competitive neutrality of the ABC and SBS – yes, another one.
Now one would think that the appropriate body to advise on that would be the Productivity Commission’s Australian Government Competitive Neutrality Complaints Office which handles complaints and provides advice to the government on unfair competition from the public sector after a complaint is made by the private sector.
But no. That would be too sensible. Pauline wanted a whole new panel to start fresh and Malcolm complied, appointing as chair Robert Kerr who ran the Productivity Commission under John Howard followed by a stint as commissioner of the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission and then as commissioner for the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation
He will be joined by Sandra Levy who worked at the ABC and Channel 9 and then at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, and Julie Flynn who spent 15 years as the boss of Free TV Australia, the lobby group for commercial free-to-air broadcasters.
They will report to the government by July on whether ABC and SBS are “operating in a manner consistent with the general principles of competitive neutrality”.
“The Commonwealth Competitive Neutrality Policy requires that government business activities should not enjoy net competitive advantages simply by virtue of their public-sector ownership,” the terms of reference note.
The cost of this review doesn’t rate a mention in any reporting I have seen so far.
One might have thought that Pauline would be interested in why Mitch Fifield, off his own bat and with no due process or direction, gifted $30 million in sports broadcasting funding to News Corporation’s Fox Sports which is only available to subscription viewers.
But no. Pauline is much more interested in finding out how much ABC staff are paid, another demand that the government agreed to.
One of the main gripes about the national broadcaster is about it’s online news which groups like Fairfax complain is unfair – we shouldn’t get our news for free apparently even though Fairfax often write about stories broken by the ABC themselves.
We have already seen the results of that pressure with many current affairs and news programs axed and a deliberate move to show more stories on “hip pocket” and “human interest” issues, which is presumably why Leigh Sales cuts short interviews with the nation’s leaders so we can see her latest simpering chat with some celebrity.
The government needs Pauline’s vote in the Senate and Pauline is on a mission to destroy the ABC and will happily give the government what it wants as long as she gets her revenge on those lefty bastards that tricked her into looking stupid.