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Killing The ABC: The IPA’s Agenda To Dismantle Australia

By Loz Lawrey

I’ve been resisting the urge to write yet another “rant” because … geez, who wants to hear more whingeing? Another complaint, another letter to the paper from yet another grumpy old man who thinks the world’s going to hell in a handbasket?

Yet I awoke today to read that the Liberal Party Council has endorsed the IPA’s wet dream: the privatisation of the ABC.

Enough! I have to squawk and screech!

In 2013, realising that Australians were about to elect an Abbott government, I remember thinking about the dumbing down of our nation I’d been witnessing for years and the extent to which it had been driven by the right wing servants of the moneyed class, aided and abetted by tabloid newspapers and commercial TV.

At first, Abbott’s style as opposition leader seemed absurd and unlikely to be taken seriously by anyone with a brain and an inclination to use it.

How could moronic, simplistic three-word slogans possibly convince Australians into voting for a party so out of touch with the public interest, one which strives to entrench the power of wealth while leaving our disadvantaged struggling to survive?

Quite easily, as it turned out.

“Stop the boats”, “ditch the witch”… several years before the ascension of Trump in the USA, Abbott and his media champion Rupert Murdoch were hard at work normalising hate speech and the politics of division.

TV vox pops with Australians in the street showed them responding to questions about their electoral intentions with regurgitated slogans or headlines from Murdoch’s publications.

The ill-named “Liberal” party, then led by Abbott and now Turnbull, bears a greater resemblance to the anti-communist, white nationalist empire-loving Old Guard than it did to the party created by Menzies.

As adjunct Professor John Nethercote (Australian Catholic University) tells us, Menzies “expressly distinguished liberalism from conservatives … Menzies was mainstream, and believed in the mainstream, believed in the community and a middle class.”

While current Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull may pay lip service to Menzies and his “values”, the fact is that the party he now leads is a different beast to the one Menzies founded. Hard-right conservative cuckoos now inhabit the Liberal nest.

It’s hard for the outsider to comprehend what these people stand for, other than money and the power it affords in a capitalist society.

In other words, that is all they stand for: their own interests and those of their wealthy backers, to the exclusion of the rest of us.

This is fascism, the merging of government and corporate power.

Selfish and self-serving, they are the ideological descendants of Thatcher and Reagan, harbingers of a toxic worldview that eschews the very concept of the common good.

“There’s no such thing as society”… Whether or not Maggie Thatcher actually said this is uncertain, but this statement perfectly encapsulates the mindset of the political far right, a mindset which perceives fascist authoritarianism to be in the public interest.

Why would anyone vote for a party that celebrates “winners” (ie. the rich) but will throw you to the wolves should you need a little help at some point from a system to which you yourself may have contributed for years via your taxes?

Well … you tell me.

In August 2012, the far right “think” tank The Institute For Public Affairs (IPA) published a wish-list of 75 suggestions for restructuring Australia’s system of governance.

If you have the time, please read this article, despite the repugnant Weasel-speak in which it is written, because it truly exposes the hypocrisy of the IPA and its agenda – one in which Medicare (ie. public health)is described as a “radical policy” and our “generous welfare safety net” (social security) as “unsustainable into the future”.

Item numbers 50 and 51 on this list were:

Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function

Privatise SBS

This raised such concern in the Australian community that Abbott famously declared on election eve in September 2013 that under a Coalition government there would be “no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS.”

These were nothing more than glibly-delivered promises, spouted at the eleventh hour by a shameless aspirant to power who had not the slightest intention of honouring them.

And what have we witnessed since then, over several years?

An ongoing defunding our public broadcaster and a vitriolic assault on its journalists based on … what? The wishes of the loony IPA? The rabid ideology of the far right?

The fact is that independent journalism and reportage tends to make right-wingers sound stupid. When ideology is given precedence over evidence, the earth becomes flat. Shallow utterances based on nothing more than belief have little to do with the truth and much to do with the pursuit of an agenda.

Once the Coalition took office, the assault began: The ABC “takes everyone’s side but Australia’s” and should “show some basic affection for the home team” squawked Abbott.

Why? Well, the ABC was doing its job. Reporting the facts.

However, when the facts don’t suit politicians and their agendas, they complain bitterly.

Throughout its history, the ABC has occasionally upset governments, be they Coalition or Labor.

Of course, it’s quite natural for incumbent governments of all stripes to wish the national broadcaster was their own propaganda spin-machine, regurgitating official media releases without scrutiny.

But it isn’t, and never should be a mouthpiece for government. Its journalism is one of the vital checks and balances that sustain our social democracy.

This is the very reason that the independence of the ABC must be maintained – its reportage holds government to account.

Sure, all journalism should be “unbiased”. Opinion pieces in conservative publications masquerading as news articles are one thing. But real “news” journalism is about facts, facts and more facts.

In other words, real journalists serve the truth, in the public interest.

Forget “Team Australia” and “taking sides”. These statements of Abbott’s seemed to imply that the truth should sometimes be suppressed.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield, himself an IPA alumnus, has just lodged his fifth complaint against the broadcaster. This is not someone engaging in oversight and management. He is serving an agenda, and his complaints are part of a coordinated assault upon the ABC by a cabal of vested interests: far-right ideologues, commercial media owners and our own federal government.

The IPA recently released their book “Against Public Broadcasting – Why We Should Privatise The ABC And How To Do It”.

If I had the time and could be bothered, I’d read the thing and write a response that counters its toxic arguments and neo-liberal antisocial agenda. But sadly, I’m getting old and life’s simply too short.

What a miserable bunch of contrarians they are. So many of the “suggestions” on the IPA’s wishlist are about dismantling, demolishing, defunding and destroying or privatising institutions that were set up with the express purpose of improving our society and supporting Australians.

Is the Turnbull government hard at work implementing the IPA’s agenda? Yes, they are.

What sort of society do these people want? Their concept of “freedom” implies a  law-of-the-jungle world with no checks and balances, no empathy or inclusion, no equality or decency.

Clearly they want Australia to emulate the descent into darkness we are currently witnessing in Trump’s America.

Well, damn them all and damn them to hell.

We’ve let them do so much that is wrong since 2013. They’ve managed to make Australians condone torture and abuse being carried out in our name in offshore gulags.

History will not treat us kindly.

They have already reduced the ABC to a shell of its former self.

The lack of funding and resources is evident, yet still our ABC struggles on, for us.

Please, good people.

We can’t let these goombahs get away with this murder.

Save our ABC.


41 comments

  1. Keith

    Loz, I think problems with leadership in the Labor Party was a big factor in determining Abbott becoming “PM”.
    While Fifield might promise that the ABC will not be privatised, a promise from the LNP is worth no more than a bucket full of the proverbial. AS you stated, Abbott’s promise in relation to the ABC and SBS was worthless.

  2. John L

    “Well damn them all, damn them all to hell”
    My thoughts exactly
    Yet people still tribally vote for these flat earth loons, without a thought, because they “can’t be bothered with politics” and the media tells them ” Shorten looks shifty” and the “Labour party are communists”
    If just 10% of these numpty voters actually engaged what passes for brains, and put aside their self interest in promises unfulfilled, they’d probably have a heart attack…. well, those with any compassion or empathy in their wizened, Liberal souls…

  3. Andrew Smith

    The influencers behind the IPA, mostly US think tanks and corporate donors, seem to perceive that they have lost the battle for nativists and/WASP conservatism hence a need to nobble and/hollow out langstanding institutions to preserve influence.

    Worse, it really doesn’t say much for any LNP voter who have also become hostage, unwittingly led into voting against their own and future generations’ interests.

    Issue with conservatives is their acquiescence to authority and beliefs as demonstrated by ageing declining branches unable to attract normal constituents, but actively recruiting pious evangelical and Mormon Christian minorities to act as praetorian guards.

    The Liberal Party has become a hollowed out party of ‘presidential leadership’, taking on board IPA policies without question (US nativism and corporatism), supporting NewsCorp’s interests and precluding geneuine grass roots constituencies.

    Australians get the LNP politicians and ‘leadership’ they deserve when easily deflected or led by dog whistling and agitprop.

  4. Kaye Lee

    “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
    Joseph Goebbels

    “The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.”
    Joseph Goebbels

  5. New England Cocky

    Abbott and Fifield have no credibility and too much influence on “policy”.

    If Fifield is an IPA alumnus then he should correctly agree that all financial donations to the IPA should be declared on the Internet within 48 hours of receipt noting the donors name and corporate or personal details.

    Andrew, the IPA influence and the rise of the so-called Christian lobby is likely a CIA funded strategy to ensure that incompetent politicians are kept i office for the benefit of foreign owned multinational corporations and their shareholders living overseas. This is a standard strategy for ensuring that Australia processes down the road to become a true third world country exporting natural resources to foreign countries at our own expense.

  6. Ian Parfrey

    Over my dead body, and I WILL fight for the ABC to the death.

  7. paul walter

    Murdoch dictatorship.

  8. Spindoctor

    We can thank the Lying Nasty Party for their self indulgence, greed, sheer incompetence and blind adherence to extremist corporate backed policies, trotted out by the likes of the IPA and the Murdoch machine. Truffles and his merry band have themselves, deliberately in this case, set in stone the core issues at the next federal poll. Attacking the ABC despite overwhelming public support shows how out of touch or just plain stupidly inflexible the Libs are as they lurch to the alt right. They are blind, how else could Howard state the party was in the best shape its been in years at a conference that attracted just 200 delegates. Aunty funding is the new Mediscare joining the long list of other issues like penalty rates, fulltime jobs, wage stagnation and outright bank corruption.

  9. Pauline A. Harris

    All these valid points must be hammered home at the next election, over and over and day by day, including polling day. We get the government we deserve. Without a voice on television, we are diminished to being a silent majority. Man the barricades for the ABC, before it is too late.

  10. Wun Farlung

    In obsevation to what Kaye Lee posted re: Goebbels
    The libs have taken and refined this tactic by coming up with the outrageous (sell the ABC) and wait for the sheple to go back to struggle street and then do it bit by bit on the sly
    Morriscum was quick to try and get the cat back in the bag yesterday with a typical sneaky announcement that selling the ABC was a non-binding policy.
    Maybe non-binding but still a policy along the lines of their NBN, Medicare, Public Education, NDIS policy. Structure and make it able to be flogged off to a corporate mate

  11. Phil Gorman

    Citizen Murdoch and the IPA are making their play. Will Australians wear it?

    My very well informed Tradie neighbor and all his mates agree, “The ABC tells lies.” I fear their views are becoming the norm. Welcome to 1933.

  12. Andrew Smith

    New England Cocky:

    I’d suggest that it’s far more complicated than ‘CIA funded strategy’. Various US journalists and academia have researched and outlined quite clearly a long game of ‘architecture’ of influence for nativist conservatives and corporates i.e. GOP.

    Jane Mayer of New Yorker has been most enlightening in ‘Dark Money’ explaining how the Kochs (who created/funded Cato Institute which is channelled by IPA too) carried on the Rockefeller (Standard Oil/Exxon Mobil whose Oz subsidiary also linked to IPA, while Kissinger is apparently ‘owned’ to promote foreign policy). This includes tradition of having influence but avoiding publicity, and creating a production line (“Freedom Works”) to shape how we think, or not…. to reinforce beliefs or religion and create antipathy towards education while getting their own way commercially and culturally.

    The aim is less government e.g. hollowing of PS and parties, less regulation concerning finance and fossil fuel environmental issues, less education especially skills of analysis and data literacy, and lower or no taxes, while preserving the status quo and a white or WASP control or influence over power.

    The production line starts in academia and think tanks to create the right research, press release for PR via media (with lots of shouting, below the line comment trolling and emotion), and also lobby politicians directly, over the long term with much astroturfing of their wishes, while gas lighting, demonising and dog whistling their targets.

  13. John Holmes

    Murdoch dictatorship. Some analysis suggests with considerable support, that Murdock Seniors push after WW1 to maximize the reparations imposed on Germany at the end of the war seriously contributed to the start of WW2. Apples do not fall far from the tree.

    I would suggest that we (Aust) should declare that the Murdoch dictatorship is now an overseas organization, and as such, should have no rights to comment on Australian politics in Australia. As we are being panicked by claims re China, what about others?

    Why should we be conned into a situation detrimental for our grand kids and their children.

  14. diannaart

    Will sufficient numbers of the electorate vote against their few remaining best interests and return the Lamentable Nightmare Party?

  15. Lawrence Winder @shanewombat)

    Bloody medieval IPA. Perhaps a book on how to dismantle it and it pathetic 4,500 members!

  16. Glenn Barry

    Wonderful article and I am yet to read all of the comments simply because I have to share this – one of the authors of the IPA work of fiction mentioned – Sinclair Davidson – I happened across an appearance of his on sky news

    I will get around to transcribing what he says, however this guy is ‘roos loose in the top paddock’ – this is really worth a watch because it’s truly astonishing

    https://twitter.com/SkyNewsAust/status/1008148202694950912
    or
    https://www.facebook.com/SkyNewsAustralia/videos/10155565827131728/

    Some background
    https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Sinclair_Davidson

    The true horror is that he’s a Professor at RMIT, which means they allow him access to students – that is truly criminal

  17. Josephus

    I thank the author and all commentators. I will read the links, Glenn, when I feel a bit braver. I ask : what can we do?

    The ABC has become sooo trivial, indeed, tho a few nuggets of useful analysis remain. I too have heard Trumpian comments by uneducated though often not stupid people, about the non Murdoch media, Moslems and so on. All Aborigines are liars. The Guardian lies. All refos get free cars and houses. These are all real comments.

    Thatcher did say that, by the way.

    Finally, all this suggests that those who were killed in battle in WWII or were murdered in the camps died in vain, because the Beast rules once more.

  18. Matters Not

    Re Sinclair Davidson:

    allow him access to students

    And also the promotion of same. Take Chris Berg as an example.

    Chris Berg is a Senior Research Fellow at the RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub, a Senior Fellow with the Institute of Public Affairs, and an Academic Fellow with the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance. … Dr Berg is one of Australia’s most prominent voices for free markets and individual liberty, and a leading authority on over-regulation, economic freedom and civil liberties. He was awarded the Australian Libertarian Society’s ‘Libertarian of the Year’ prize in 2018.

    He holds a PhD in economics from RMIT University, which was awarded in 2016. … The thesis was awarded the RMIT Prize for Research Excellence in the Enterprise category

    Talk about a slow march through the institutions. Seems like he can get an ABC gig whenever he wants as well. That’s the ABC they want abolished.

    http://chrisberg.org/about/

  19. Andrew Smith

    ‘Will sufficient numbers of the electorate vote against their few remaining best interests and return the Lamentable Nightmare Party?’

    I think Australians are more than capable of voting against, if not their own, future generations’ interests, if (in the upper age median vote) enough 1950s’ nostalgia and money or benefits in kind, are constantly reinforced.

    Many Australians don’t appreciated how consolidated, narrow, shallow, culturally specific and manipulative our media (or medium) have become when policies used in 1930s’ Europe and now ‘illiberal dictatorships’ such as Russia, Turkey and Hungary appear perfectly acceptable (when in fact hugely unethical).

  20. Glenn Barry

    Josephus, thus far my battle against the IPA and specifically Sinclair Davidson is to call him out in no uncertain terms for his delusional conspiratorial garbage.

    I’ve recently taken to twitter, initially to post to the Q&A twitter feed, but find there’s a good banter and astute critical analysis, and ridicule, of the misinformation emanating from the right wing media.

    I can see the annoyance of the LNP with social media, because they get slapped down and ridiculed very promptly.

    It may be ineffectual, however I believe a politician’s worst nightmare is to be ridiculed as that drains credibility incredibly quickly and people stop listening altogether soon afterwards.

  21. smartatarc

    Bolt in the Herald Sun today calling for sale or dismantling of the ABC. And already most of his reader comments enthusiastically agreeing (of course – they do read Bolt, after all). This is all part of the softening up campaign which will continue increasing, while completely ignoring the fact that the ABC is already riddled with IPA commentators, the board is stacked with conservatives, and the announcers etc are becoming more timid every day as a result of this campaign. Not to mention the ongoing budget cuts.

    This just has to be stopped by all of us. Otherwise Bolt will be all there is.

  22. paul walter

    Sinclair Davidson.

    A sparring partner of Quiggin and classical (neo) Liberal economics bluster academic and occasional media commentator who also operates a long-running blogsite called Catalaxy Files, or Catalepsy Files as some of us know it.

    You will find, if you unwise enough to google then visit, a sequence that involves people like Judith Sloan and Van Onselen as cover people.

    Ps, MN and GB, to name just two AIM cntributors, have provided words to consider as to some of these folk, as I’ve just realised on a quick scroll up.

  23. Zathras

    I doubt that the (so-called) Free-to-Air broadcasters want to see the ABC sold.

    They would prefer to see it closed down entirely.

    Diluting the available national advertising revenue by introducing another competitor will be the last thing they want,
    Furthermore, who will take up the rural coverage enjoyed by supporters of the National Party?

    It’s time the public were informed about how much “free” broadcasting is really costing them through levies paid on goods for advertising. It’s far more than the ABC and more regressive.
    Not everyone is a taxpayer but we are all consumers.

    Turnbull may complain about the “Mediscare” campaign but he must realise that his own Party are providing all the ammunition when they discuss, vote on and pass policies like this.

  24. OPPOSE THE MAJOR PARTIES

    the vote taken at the Liberal conference says they want to retain regional ABC services in public hands. That seems contrary to liberal philosophy as it will mean all city folk will be subsidizing the services for the bushies. How is that fair? Surely if the urban services go so should the rural and regional. Wonder what the bush pig nationals would think once they understand that. They will end up with nothing out there. That’s what they get for voting for LNP scum.

  25. Oscar

    Just another little sordid deal they have conjured up to pacify the bushies. The LNP stands for; ” just say and do anything to get it through.”

  26. townsvilleblog

    The Liberal Party of Australia/IPA converting Australia to the USA with indecent haste, one brick at a time.

  27. Adrianne Haddow

    Does anybody know why the “Insiders” program was presented by cupcake Annabel Crabbe this week?
    Has Barry Cassidy been replaced by the ‘cooking with pollies’, ever placating, sweet Annabel?

    Is he in the naughty corner with Lara Tingle because he asks pertinent questions and persists in seeking correct answers rather than allowing weasel speak answers? Or, even worse, allows his guest journalists to express their opinions.

    The actions of our fascist rulers, in multiple complaints about the ABC and their announcement of said complaints in MSM, at the same time as the IPA propaganda book launch, are so transparent. They are gobsmacking in their arrogant belief that we won’t notice their clumsy attempts at framing the narrative.

  28. Terence Mills

    A resolution unanimously passed by the Liberal Party federal conference to sell our national broadcaster evidently will have no influence on Liberal party policy. If this is the case, you can expect that the logical consequence will be for the rank and file of the Liberal Party to overturn its Executive and replace it with one that will listen to its membership who are demanding that the ABC be sold-off.

    Let’s be honest, the coalition policy is to flock to Foxtel and SKY for interviews and to 2GB for radio commentary as soft platforms to launch policy thought bubbles with minimal questioning. The IPA to which the Liberal Party clone and from where they draw their next generation of politicians, are adamantly and ideologically committed to degrading and destroying public broadcasting in this country and in this they are ably assisted by the minions at Newscorp.

    Clearly, it is not coalition policy to sell off the ABC today but, if the coalition is re-elected they will take that as a mandate for their policies and you can bet your last dollar that will include further degradation of the ABC until it ceases to be a national broadcaster worthy of protection.

    Already the high rotation of repeat programs is starting to hurt the ABC image and, of course, they cannot now afford popular sporting coverage beyond the cricket on radio and it is well known that sports coverage is the hook to get audiences in. Don’t ever forget that Mitch Fifield gave $30million to Fox Sports to encourage them to cover niche sports including women’s sports. Ask yourself why he didn’t give that money to our national broadcaster.

  29. Kaye Lee

    Adrianne,

    Barry has gone to a friend’s wedding. He mentioned it the week before. Annabel is temporary.

  30. diannaart

    Privatising Australia’s public broadcaster …

    Who benefits?

    Who loses?

    If ABC is wholly privatised, and not dismantled, how does the addition of another commercial broadcaster help Australia? Particularly as current free-to-air stations are struggling in the today’s digital market.

  31. Matters Not

    And after the wedding he’s off to the football. Something about a World Cup being on. But perhaps he’s also doing a spot of spying as an Insider and all that. Heather will be checking out a few Back Roads as well one would imagine.

  32. totaram

    I have followed Chris Berg’s progress with some interest. It would be good to know what his Ph.D. thesis was about and most importantly, who were the examiners. I would guess it is a thinly disguised propaganda piece based on the fallacious economic theories you find propagated on “catallaxy”. There I discovered that Henry Ergas, who was also awarded some prize for being a great economist, is incapable of correctly interpreting a linear function of one variable. Or, perhaps he chose an interpretation that suited him but was not consistent with the mathematical function he presented and, like most neoliberals, he thought no one would notice the flaw.
    It is uncertain if Chris Berg has faintest idea of what a block-chain is, but no doubt he writes reams of stuff about how it will “free-up” the economy from “regulation”.

  33. Glenn Barry

    For anyone inclined to watch the video using the link to facebook – I just found this post which looks to be information from a link to the Australian – wasn’t behind a paywall for me – it’s just pure gaslighting

    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/its-easy-being-green-at-the-abc-survey-finds/news-story/4b36bb728fa752f563182f69208eb03d?sv=ada2b3719a7659bc9eabfc7bf18bbb09&nk=ed7a63e1b17a4e76b85f0c817bb42914-1529287668

    MORE than 40 per cent of ABC journalists who answered a survey question about their political attitudes are Greens supporters, four times the support the minor party enjoys in the wider population.
    The journalism survey, the largest in 20 years, has found the profession is overwhelmingly left-leaning, with respondents from the ABC declaring double levels of support for the Greens compared with those from Fairfax Media and News Limited.

    The survey of 605 journalists from around Australia found that just more than half described themselves as having left political views, while only 13 per cent said they were right of centre.

    This tendency was most pronounced among the 34 ABC journalists who agreed to declare their voting intention, with 41 per cent of them saying they would vote for the Greens, 32 per cent declaring support for Labor and 14 per cent backing the Coalition.

  34. johno

    Bedtime reading ?

  35. paul walter

    Insiders was despicable. Very quickly switched off.. It is comment worthy that contingent Annabel is ephemeral.

  36. Keith

    A motion had been pushed in Parliament today to protect the ABC, the f#####g LNP voted against the motion.
    Quote from an email received from Labor Party … “The Turnbull Government has just voted against a motion in Parliament to keep the ABC in public hands ….”

    Just goes to prove the soothing words of Turnbull, Fifield, Frydenberg et al are worthless.

  37. meiyouren

    This is Murdoch agenda, money people dismantling everything that cannot be ruled by their money. To follow the IPA’s advice is to strip bare the public service, civil society, and anything else that makes this country a decent place to reside in.

  38. paul walter

    Yes, behind the seeming haphazard nature of ongoing events it is obvious the demise of auntie is tightly orchestrated, whatever lies Guthrie, Berg, Turnbull and others say to the contrary.

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