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Let’s Keep The ABC And Sell The Government!

As I’m fond of pointing out, Liberal governments have a strangely inconsistent message. For example, they’re strongly in favour of free speech, but want any criticism of them shut down. People should be free to spend their money how they choose, but they want individuals contributing to GetUp! to jump through so many hoops that one has to wonder what happened to their “war on red tape”…

Similarly, we have to listen to their endless boasting about how awesome they are at economic management, only to be told that private industry is much better than they are at managing just about anything. Is it just me or does it seems strange that people who tell us that they’re excellent at running the economy, but totally incapable of running any of the things that comprise the economy.

And so it becomes Liberal policy to sell the ABC…

Let me be clear here: When I say that it’s Liberal policy to sell the ABC, I don’t mean it’s the policy of the Liberal Party because they’ve said quite clearly that it’s not their policy. Why it’s even more not their policy than introducing the “never, ever” GST, or Tony Abbott’s “ironclad guarantee” that there’d be no changes to the Medicare safety net after the 2004 election. And it’s certainly more strongly not their policy than all the election promises they broke after the 2013 election in order to keep their most important promise of getting the Budget back into surplus. A promise so important that we now have billions of dollars in proposed tax cuts, because the only thing more important the promise of getting the Budget back into the black was Malcolm’s promise that if you make me leader, I’ll keep winning elections.

No, selling the ABC is not the policy of the Liberal Party; it was only voted on at the Liberal Party conference. Even though the result was a resounding, “Yes, because Rupert wants to buy it”, it’s not really worth worrying about because the Liberal Party conference votes are – like election promises – not binding on the parliamentary party.

So recently we’ve had Scott Morrison tell us that he funds the ABC, so he doesn’t have to defend it and Malfunction Turnbull tell everyone that it has a left wing bias. While Mal’s comment begs the question, “Compared to what – Reclaim Australia’s manifesto or Socialist Weekly?”, Scott’s position is a little more confusing. Would Morrison say that the government funds Centrelink therefore they don’t have to defend it? Or we fund schools and hospitals, so we don’t have to defend them?

Assuming that by “I”, Scottie meant the government, and by the government he meant the taxpayers, then we have a rather strange logical extension if you apply the same concept to almost anything else. For example, would you say I’m funding my lawyer so I don’t have to defend his behaviour in court?

Whatever, it seems that we’re being softened up for the eventual attack on the ABC. While selling it would be politically hard, it’s even harder to oppose the will of Rupert “Monty” Murdoch. If you repeat something often enough, people start to believe it. I’m quite willing to concede that the ABC is further to the left than the editor of “The Financial Review”, but I’m yet to hear anyone on the ABC talk about which bastards will be lined up against the wall when the revolution comes. Neither is there a disclaimer after the News segment discussing the financial markets telling viewers that many of these companies make their profits through the tears and blood of exploited workers.

No, the ABC seems frightfully middle of the road to me. While many ask where’s the right wing equivalent of Philip Adams – a Sydney millionaire who’s meant to represent the ABC’s leftist bent – they conveniently ignore the fact that Adams isn’t exactly advocating revolution. More importantly, they also conveniently ignore that they’re often asking it on the ABC, in much the same way one talkback caller complained that they never had talkback callers like him on the morning show.

I suspect that the best way to stop talk of selling the ABC wouldn’t be to oppose it but to embrace it. Once I start my crowdfunding campaign to purchase it and run it as an “Alternative Broadcasting Company”, then we’d quickly see the government finding all sorts of reasons to keep it public hands.

Then we could start a campaign to privatise the Federal Government and Australia could be run by the highest bidder.

Which, I guess, is sort of what happens anyway…


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  1. David Bruce

    With the Commonwealth of Australia doing business as (dba) the Australian Government, maybe no need to sell the Government. We just change the franchise holder from LNP to something better?

  2. Miriam English

    Too late, Rossleigh. Our government’s already been bought. They were privatised without anybody being asked about it. They’re now a cooperatively, but fully owned, branch of the Australian mining companies and News Corp. They don’t like to advertise the fact because there’s the need to keep up that pesky pretense of a democracy.

    Wonderful article. It made me laugh aloud. Thank you Rossleigh. 🙂

  3. Keitha Granville

    As always your pointing out the absurdity of our current reality always makes me chuckle 🙂

  4. Vikingduk

    As some companies choose to float on the stockmarket, the corrupt entity known as the LNP float on the cesspool, major shareholders being the repulsive rupert, gina of the rindheart, alan the parrot jones, etc. Past time for a bloody good flush.

  5. diannaart

    the ABC seems frightfully middle of the road to me…

    Me too.

    And speaking of middle of the road – Phillip Adams – he still writes a column for the Australian, doesn’t he?

  6. Mick

    They’re so addicted to privatisation, they’ll probably do it themselves . . . as per . . .

    Editorial / Political


  7. Keith

    One problem with selling the government is that tax payers would be burnt severely by its negative value.

  8. Clean livin

    A question for The PM, why aren’t you whinging about the Murdoch Press and their bias, which puts the ABC to shame on a matter of balance?

    On one side, the ABC, are recognised by the majority as trustworthy. On the other side, (including politicians) the Murdoch rag sheets are losing readers in droves, because of, wait for it……BIAS.

    Is it any wonder most Australians are ignoring what pollies are telling them?

  9. Christian Marx

    Great article. The Institute Of Public Affairs is destroying our democracy at a frightening pace!

  10. Rossleigh

    Clean livin, it goes like this:

    1. Murdoch’s empire is privately owned and if it’s biased, that’s ok because there’s no obligation to be balanced because you can print what you like if you’re paying the bills.
    2. The ABC belongs to all Australians therefore it is unlike private companies and has a responsibility to represent all points of view.
    3. When the ABC presents a different point of view from that found in the Murdoch media, it is showing bias.
    4. Because the ABC is biased, it needs to balance its coverage and present the same news as the rest of the media.
    5. Because the ABC is now doing essentially the same job as the rest of the media, where’s the need for it? It should be sold.
  11. economicreform

    The federal government has already been sold – to the highest bidder. How and where do you think it gets money, resources and free advertising for fighting election campaigns? The price of that sale is the government’s acceptance of the neoliberal economic agenda, including such things as excessive tax cuts for the wealthy and megacorporations, other welfare payments for the same, propping up unprofitable modes of generating power – including the use of fossil fuels – with generous subsidies, cutting back funding in all areas of education and health, etc etc.

  12. Ill fares the land

    The Coalition believes in free speech – for anyone it wants to listen to. This means conservatives, the conservative media and hacks from the multitude of right-wing think tanks funded by the wealthy and big business interests (and a breeding ground for the next generation of right-wing LNP members). This most definitely includes the Australian and the Financial Review – admittedly only some of the time, but when they are bad, they are both very, very bad. I read the FInancial Review for Wednesday 20th June 2018 and was utterly appalled at the blatant right-wing, pro-IPA stance taken by pretty much all of its writers. More recently, Michael Sutchbury has shown himself to be as biased as Gerard Kennedy. When either is on Insiders, I record the show so I can fast forward over their prattle! I grant you that I see the world through a “social democratic” lens, but bias is bias. For anyone else, the Coalition favours penalties for anyone daring to champion an alternate view.

    The conservatives also preach about “small government”, but as with “free speech”, it is code for “we want small government for the rich and powerful but we strongly favour very intrusive and overbearing government for the lower classes, unions and anyone else who disagrees with our view of the world”.

  13. paul walter

    Sell the government? We’d have to pay the buyers to take it off our hands.

  14. helvityni

    Big LOL for that, Paul Walter.

  15. diannaart

    @ Ill fares the land

    The weltanschauung of any extreme POV, in this case that of the far-right, is more of a flat-earth view than world-wide Case in point, Trump’s treatment of refugees to “make America strong.”

    Examples from the far-left is the belief all competition/capitalism is anti-social.

  16. Matters Not

    The LNP knows it can’t sell the ABC but with an election on the horizon it can certainly exert pressure on ABC employees to self-censor. That is, they can cause ABC commentators to think and then think again before making any controversial comments.

    Anyone remember Emma Alberici? Notice she’s been a bit quiet of late? I suspect she still licking her wounds from her last kicking. Other would have learnt from her treatment. Better to keep your head down?

    Self censorship is the ultimate form of control.

    It’s well recognised in the literature.

    Self-censorship is the act of censoring or classifying one’s own discourse. This is done out of fear of, or deference to, the sensibilities or preferences (actual or perceived) of others and without overt pressure from any specific party or institution of authority. Self-censorship is often practiced by film producers, film directors, publishers, news anchors, journalists, musicians, and other kinds of authors including individuals who use social media.

    Self-censorship is affecting more and more European media

  17. Jaquix

    The voting at that Federal Liberal Party Council for privatising/selling the ABC, ended up in fact 39 for, only 10 against. With the Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield being a member of IPA, and having the government responsibility (on our behalf) for the ABC, he has a massive conflict of interest. No matter what he says. Rupert gave him gold cufflinks last year, whether for the $30 million giftFifield got through as a tiny little budget item, or future services, who would know.
    Turnbull has 8 IPA members in his Ministry. And another 10 hanging around on backbenches. That cannot surely be a coincidence.
    Im sure Rupert gave him a list….

  18. diannaart

    @ Jaquix

    Will be paying attention – IPA droogs increase on ABC as election looms closer. One effect of the “let’s rip a new one into the ABC” project will be the acceptance (under sufferance) by the ABC of IPA intrusions.

    Just wish the ABC could provide more balance, not being ironic, any time the IPA gets a spot they need to be balanced by their ‘spiritual’ opposites such as ANTIFA.

    Gold Cufflinks? Is that all Rupert could afford?

  19. johno

    Cufflinks, WTF. An IPA must have, I am sure.

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