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The ABC has no Friends left

After Tony Abbott, in his first budget, broke his promise to not cut funding to the ABC, a new cross-party lobby group called Parliamentary Friends of the ABC was formed to advocate for a well-resourced and independent ABC.

It was reported at the time:

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull gave a passionate defence of the public broadcaster in a speech to the 50-plus attendees, who included Senate powerbroker Clive Palmer. Mr Scott and ABC Chairman James Spigelman also attended the event.

Western Australian Labor MP Melissa Parke and NSW Liberal MP Craig Laundy are the co-chairs of the group. Nationals MP Bruce Scott, Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and independent Senator Nick Xenophon are the deputy co-chairs.

Since then, the ABC management has changed and, of the politicians mentioned, only Turnbull and Laundy survive, both seemingly having been bought off by promotions.

The “small ‘f’ friend” Turnbull, who once launched the Saturday Paper quipping “You are not some demented plutocrat pouring more and more money into a loss making venture that is just going to peddle your opinions” has long since disappeared.

From the minute the Coalition took control, the ABC has been under relentless attack – funding cuts leading to programming and staffing cuts, boycotts by politicians, endless reviews, accusations of bias and of being unpatriotic, attacks on individuals for perceived criticism of the government or “Australian values”, legislation threatening jail time for journalists.

We even had that meglomaniac Dutton, in a very Godfather-like way, saying the ABC was “dead” to him.

PHON are happy to trade their vote on entirely unrelated matters in order to decimate the ABC.

Pauline Hanson is filthy with them and out for revenge for two reasons. Whilst she was happy to appear everywhere taking the publicity, she certainly didn’t want any reporting on dodgy donations or internal party dissent, and she didn’t want to be made to look like a fool, though how you avoid that last one is beyond me.

Even David Leyonhjelm used his vote for the union-bashing ABCC to leverage for the ABC and SBS to remove themselves from the “goat’s cheese curtain” by holding community forums paid for from their own depleted budget.

The IPA, despite continually appearing on the ABC, have made many submissions to Senate committees calling for its dismantling, this one from regular ABC panel member Chris Berg in July last year:

Currently the government directly provides journalism through the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. This is not desirable, nor should such further direct state provision be seen as a desirable solution to the economic problems the committee seeks to address. The reason for this is that the ABC is neither as free or independent as it and its supporters proclaim

As with the marriage equality debate, conservatives seem to completely misread public sentiment where more than 80% of Australians trust the ABC, compared to average trust of 57% for commercial media, and 71% of Australian adults watch, read or listen to ABC content every week.

Perhaps the only way we can get the message through is to vote these bastards out and demand that Labor protect our national broadcaster.

Make your opinion known.


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  1. New England Cocky


    FASCISM REQUIRES THE SUPPRESSION OF A FREE AND OBJECTIVE MEDIA TO ALLOW POLITICIANS AND THE UNELECTED POLITICAL HACKS WHO CONTROL PRE-SELECTION IN THE PARTIES to establish their stratified society benefitting only the undeserving rich and corporates with all costs of a democratic government passed off onto the working classes.

  2. Margot Korbell

    And courtesy of the IPA’s publishing arm coming to a bookshop near you

    Against Public Broadcasting: Why and how we should privatise the ABC — Chris Berg and Sinclair Davidson
    ISBN: 9781925501896
    Paperback, $29.95
    COMING IN MAY 2018
    The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is a media colossus with a reputation for integrity and quality. It is also a billion-dollar government program that lacks any coherent justification for its existence. Chris Berg and Sinclair Davidson provide a highly readable account of how and why the ABC has come to be in this position. This is the first serious analysis of the rationale for the ABC and its existence in decades.
    When the ABC was founded in the 1930s the problem was a scarcity of media. Now that we live in a world of media plenty, it is hard to see why the government is still subsidising a media empire. This book provides an outline of how policymakers can dispose of the ABC, while at the same time preserving its value and realising that value for the benefit of taxpayers.–Chris-Berg-and-Sinclair-Davidson_p_177.html

  3. Michael

    Just goes to show what little, though indirect, connection there is between politicians and citizens via publicly funded (no fear, favour, vested interest, transparent, professional) media outlet still leaves a big gap in our work in progress democracy between elections.

  4. Kaye Lee


    If Berg’s Senate submission is anything to go by, he has some whacky ideas including putting public interest journalism services out to tender, the government granting deductable gift recipient (DGR) status to media organisations to self-fund (through donations), the government supporting individual firms or journalists with grants, reform of media ownership laws to provide a “more efficient use of resources in the media sector” and, of course, getting rid of discrimination and defamation laws that inhibit “free speech”.

  5. PeterStevenson

    It was only last year that the Turnbull Government gave 30 million dollars somewhat underhand to Fox Tel Murdochs media organisation a sweet heart deal if ever there was one. They must think that we have short memories.

  6. Adrianne Haddow

    The Australia Institute is still a friend of the ABC.
    You can sign their petition and gain more information with the following link

    The Australia Institute

    Here’s the full petition:

    No Politics at Aunty’s Table

    Add your name: Hands off our ABC!

    Dear Coalition Government —

    The ABC is one of Australia’s most trusted news sources. We urge you to safeguard the independence of the ABC and keep our public broadcaster free of political interference.

    We also urge you to commit to funding the ABC adequately so it can do its job as our public broadcaster.

    Sign here:

  7. Adrianne Haddow

    The Australia Institute has a petition opposing cuts to the ABC.

    Here’s the full petition:

    No Politics at Aunty’s Table

    Add your name: Hands off our ABC!

    Dear Coalition Government —

    The ABC is one of Australia’s most trusted news sources. We urge you to safeguard the independence of the ABC and keep our public broadcaster free of political interference.

    We also urge you to commit to funding the ABC adequately so it can do its job as our public broadcaster.

    Sign here:

  8. roger hawcroft

    Hear, hear, Kaye. There is no doubt but that the ABC has been bombarded with criticism by every Coalition government since and including that of John Howard.

    An aspect of this anti-ABC propaganda that disturbs me particularly, however, is the frequency with which I come across such sentiments from ALP supporters and others on the left side of politics.

    These left-wing anti-ABC lobbyists seem not to extend any mitigation to the ABC’s unenviable position of being dependent on a hostile government for funding and the pressure placed upon it, by that government, to give increased exposure to right-wing views, including some of those that constitute examples of the worst ethical and moral standpoints of our time.

    I, of course, have no truck with such views and I suspect that the vast majority of reputable and conscientious journalist that remain at the ABC, don’t care for them either. However, with the extent of pressure, both financial and critical, my view is that the ABC and its staff must walk a tight-rope, each time they put out a program. This must be particularly difficult since the installation of the ex Fox CEO

    Yes, I get sick of seeing the self-styled ‘experts’ such as Jane Caro and having to listen to their vacuous comments on the Drum, just as I get extremely annoyed at the lies and distortions presented by Kate Carnell and other regular right-wing visitors to the panel. Their inability to follow serious discussion, their condescending tones and their constant speaking over others as virtuall unbearable. However Julia Baird is one of the most competent and fair interviewers I have ever witnessed and Ellen Fanning also does a good job.

    The appointment of Amanda Vandstone to ABC Radio National is another appalling choice os someone who has a Grade 5 level of understaning of political and social issues and whose presentations are so one sided that if you listen to her in stereo there is no sound from the left speaker.

    All the same, in the circumstances and given the loss of many good journalists and the constant pressure on them to provide ‘balance’ which is actually code for; “don’t tell the truth if it makes the LNP government or conservative ideas look bad”, I think that they are still our best television source of competent new reporting and analysis.

    Personally, I would hate to see the ABC gone and I wish that left-wingers who either support or don’t challenge the negative criticisms ot the ABC’s critics and right-wing presenters would, instead of insinuating and implying, actually itemise their concerns so that those of us who are capable could reason with them.

  9. Margot Korbell

    And these are the media related things in the IPA wish list “75 Radical Ideas To Transform Australia”.

    14 Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
    15 Eliminate laws that require radio and television broadcasters to be ‘balanced’
    17 End local content requirements for Australian television stations
    50 Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function
    51 Privatise SBS
    24 End media blackout in final days of election campaigns
    27 Eliminate media ownership restrictions

  10. Zathras

    To make up for the funding shortfall, the ABC should start making cutbacks in the rural-related area coverage and let the Nationals deal with the inevitable consequences from their supporters.

    Perhaps Berg’s next book should be about the Miracle of Privatisation and how it’s worked wonders in the banking, employment, telecommunications, electricity and air travel sectors and the huge rewards it has reaped for the average consumer in cost as well as service.

    As well as Exxon-Mobil, Telstra, WMC Resources, BHP Billiton, Phillip Morris, Murray Irrigation, Monsanto, Gunns, Woodside Petroleum, Visy Industries, Clough Engineering, Caltex, Shell, Esso and British American Tobacco the IPA also gets handouts of taxpayer money.
    At least Rio Tinto had the guts to abandon them over the IPAs opposition to self-determination for aborigines. The IPA were too extreme for the ultra right miners,

    They are a sinister group with a specific agenda and it’s no wonder the Liberal Party is so closely aligned with them. In fact, they are practically the political wing and shop-front of the IPA.

  11. Lawrence Winder @shanewombat)

    Hate and destruction is all the Ruling Rabble know how to implement. That useless lump, Sloan said with a smirk on The Drum last night that the coalition knew how to pick a fight and that the new cuts to the ABC were payback. I hope her appearance on QandA next Monday 14th gets her the welcome she deserves.

  12. Kaye Lee

    Judith Sloan was deputy chair of the ABC and Janet Albrechtsen was on the Board….and still it survives.

  13. Terry2

    Perhaps if the ABC scrapped broadcasting Parliamentary Question Time they could save some money and look to more intellectually stimulating programming, like Gilligan’s Island

  14. Margot Korbell

    Judith Sloan on The Drum

    ABC The Drum Verified account
    “There’s a bit of payback there, probably.” Are Govt’s #Budget2018 measures about politics or economics? #TheDrum

  15. diannaart

    A significant part of the problem the far right has with issues close to or even, horror, left of centre, is the affront or insult taken if the ABC dares to give airtime to anything that does not reek of far-right rhetoric. Issues such as sustainable anything, or allowing unions into workplace to speak to workers, investing in public schools or just indicating a concern for the well-being of life, the universe and everything, are clearly anti freedom of speech – because there is only one acceptable type of free speech according to neo-cons.

    “If you care, this means you are a rabid lefty, commo, latte-sipping, snivelling do-gooder”.

    The ABC hasn’t got a hope of convincing these people that it actually works very hard to present a 360 presentation of news, education, entertainment and (mostly) well-informed opinion. Because giving a diverse range of topics is a lefty thing.

    Given the slow death by a thousand cuts, it is hardly surprising when the ABC does get things wrong – not so many people available to cross-check and edit due to limited staff.

    First wound an enemy then blame them for falling.

  16. Sue

    You know what a surprise it was that the IPA joined with Get Up to oppose the foreign donations bill? It was because the IPA is a charity and would. Be affected. Maybe even lose tax deductible status. Or have to pay tax. I can understand it’s a nonprofit organisation, but shouldn’t there be more transparency. I knew it was a “think” tank for the Lliberal policy makers, but not that the taxpayer was supporting.

  17. Kaye Lee

    The ABC are a danger to them.

    Four Corners keeps reporting on things like the institutional response to child sex abuse (Unholy Silence) and “Pumped: Who’s benefitting from the billions spent on the Murray-Darling?” and “Australia’s Shame” which exposed the abuse of Aboriginal Youth in detention. It was 2014 when they aired “Banking Bad”, exposing the toxic culture in the banks.

    It was the ABC that exposed our government paying people smugglers to take asylum seekers elsewhere. It is the ABC who continue to expose the cruelty of the live animal trade. It is the ABC that gives voice to minorities in our country, including them in panel discussions.

    The government tries to silence ABC reports on the NBN and the effect of company tax cuts and the destructive opposition to action on climate change.

    I sincerely hope they do not give in to this bullying and that they continue to hold those in positions of power to account. It is a crucial investment to fund them to do so.

  18. Kaye Lee


    Back in 2003, John Howard gave a government contract to the IPA to investigate NGOs who they felt were having too loud a voice in advocacy (Greenpeace, Amnesty International and Oxfam for example) – something that was becoming increasingly necessary with the privatisation of public services enthusiastically supported by the IPA.

    The following is much too long to read but read the abstract and/or the first paragraph or two under the heading Chapter 1 Introduction

  19. Wun Farlung

    I saw Sloane let the cat out of the bag on The Drumm yesterday too Margot and she refused to be drawn on it. Although judging by other comments it was something we already knew
    Amazingly she looked as though she was ashamed she had said it

  20. Kaye Lee

    I remember Sloan having to defend saying “Childcare workers are ‘Dim-Witted’ Graduates from 2nd Rate Universities” another time she was on Q&A. She likes to call herself “the laconic economist”. I can think of better descriptors.

  21. blair

    When the MSM is held to the same “Fair and Unbiased” reporting standards as the ABC, with hefty penalties for “Unfair & Biased” reporting, then, and only then will we be able to let our beloved ABC go.
    I’m not holding my breath
    …and fix the bloody media laws while we are at it. Murdoch owns over 70% of Oz Media, he has his “plants” in the ABC already.

  22. guest

    Judith Sloan tried to slip out of too much comment by saying she is not privy to Coalition backroom talk. Of course she does not have to be: it is blatantly obvious that the Coalition is out for revenge on what it sees as “bias” on the part of the ABC, despite the fact such accusations have not been proven by numerous investigations. Besides all of which, the Coalition, along with Murdoch, claims to be a champion of “free speech” – and we know how that works.

    As well, the Coalition and Murdoch are against Human Rights.and both have heavily critic Gillian Triggs, especially about an incident involving 3 Qld university students which these critics remember like elephants despite the reasons why Triggs had no choice has been clearly explained.

    The Right is also against Science as we see in its reduction in support of biodiversity, and its denial, in practice, of Climate Change.

    These narrow minded ideologues are intent on using public monies as a weapon, by either giving money to the wealthy or by taking away money from those that make them feel uncomfortable. They hope that thereby their critics will go away.

    But the opposite is happening and their narrow perspective is being criticised at home and abroad because it is not for “the common good “; their focus is on themselves only.

    There are others who are wary of “self-styled experts”. I wonder why Roger Hawcroft @1:40 pm will not allow someone from either side of politics to have their say. In particular, I would support Jane Caro when she talks about education because I know what she is talking about. Whereas Mr Hawcroft should “itemise” his concerns so that “those of us who are capable could reason with them.”

  23. Pauline Westwood

    Unfortunately even its faithful audience is turning away. Ms Guthrie either does not understand ABC audiences or she is actively trying to destroy the broadcaster by lowering the quality and dumbing down the cpntent. Most of us do not use the endlessly advertised podcasts. There are few programs sort the effort. And as for the radio broadcasts, we do not want to hear the four times. There is rarely a mention that we are about to hear a repeat.
    I used to be an enthusiastic advocat, but now I just dont care.

  24. paul walter

    What a load of nonsense from Margo Korbell, obviously deranged if she cites IPA sources.

  25. guest

    Paul Walter, Margo Korbell has every right to expose the IPA by reminding us of their weird ideology. It does not mean that Margo is supporting the IPA.

    I think it would be better if more claptrap was exposed. We would be less likely to get sucked in by “fake news”.

  26. Andrew Smith

    Classic nativist tactics and ideology of shutting up or down critical media, judiciary, NGOs etc. while promoting intolerance, religion etc. like great democracies such as Turkey, Russia, Hungary, UK and US. Further, as some commenters suggest, try explaining to people in the bush why the ABC should be nobbled financially and in audience reach, while legacy commercial media get state support and allowed over reach by new media laws.

    Related, today Abbott’s mate Sheridan on behalf of Murdoch in TheOz complaining about the EU; EU competition laws would preclude NewsCorp operating like it does in Oz (and many other corporates eg. Telstra).

    I suspect we may well see another LNP govt. as Australians, at least those who vote, are easily manipulated into voting against the nation’s interests due to our narrow shallow media and social discourse.

  27. Michael

    To diannaart 2018_0510 15:32

    ” – not so many people available to cross-check and edit due to limited staff.”

    From you comment, It occurred to me that modern media comprises resources plus being first.

    Perhaps ABC should not compete with the rest of media at being first, devote more resouces into substance, accuracy and being informative (educative)?

    “may not be first, but always reliable”?

  28. wam

    The ABC was accepted as the place for reliable news by my rabbottians but it has spread itself too thinly with 24 and breakfast. These could go without affecting the ABC and may reduced the silly left wing tag.
    Sadly the prime objection is the expectation to concentrate for longer that a few minutes before an ad.
    Personally when they bumped kerry and sales stamped her authority – mrabbott I have one question: would you like me to listen whilst you talk? (with ‘have you read the report as her only redeeming feature) but day after day she threw shit at gillard.

  29. Regional Elder

    Critics of the ABC complain often about paying taxes for its continuation.

    But just over $1 billion annually is a minimal amount for a population of 25 million, when elective expenditure by Australians on all forms of gambling annually is $25 billion, and we spend some $15 million on alcohol each year. Advertising outlays annually in Australia are estimated to be about $11.5 million, and some of this is commercial media advertising on radio,television and other platforms, which personally I rarely access, because the content essentially serves the profit-making interests of private corporations, advertisers, and their shareholders, not the public.

    This year the estimated total outlays for the Commonwealth Budget for the financial year ending is $444 billion. Thus the allocation to the ABC begins to look extraordinarily modest.

    If you do the maths on a per capita basis, that’s less than 20 cents a day per citizen, not just television, but a variety of radio stations including a virtual university of the air, Radio National.

    No the Murdoch-sponsored ‘ charity organisation ‘ the deceptively named Institute for Public Affairs has a lot to answer for to the Australian public, but no they don’t take that on, because primarily, they answer to their Board and to their shareholders.

    The ABC, despite what the LNP government is doing to it still remains a beacon of knowledge light in a sea of propaganda and infotainment. We need to advocate for it against the privateers.

  30. paul walter

    Yes. I have been in error. My apologies to Margot Korbell and other readers here.

    The IPA, the government, Murdoch and their ritual slandering, debasement and dismemberment of public broadcasting is something I take probably a bit too personally. I should have read a bit less carelessly.

  31. paul walter
  32. Matters Not

    Want a more equal society? Here’s three (possible) options. First, the lower classes will physically revolt. Pick up pitchforks and attack the citadels of power. Sorry, truth is, there’s absolutely no appetite for that.

    Second, there’s the option of looking at the taxation arrangements. What should be taxed? Labour, technology, expenditure, assets, turnover, profits and the like?

    Third, there is the option of increased public ownership of a complete range of public goods and services.. After all, it’s what we do with this fiat currency. Seems to me that the only limitation is our imagination and perhaps the will?

    We need to think outside the square. Look at all the possible scenarios. Even the LNY these day are contemplating publically owned power stations.

  33. Zathras

    The ABC is indeed funded by taxpayers but the so-called “free-to-air” media is funded by consumers via a levy placed on all advertised goods.

    Not everyone is a taxpayer but almost everyone is a consumer.

    I’ve seen figures that show that the ABC costs the average household around $230 per annum while the other media costs well over $2,000.

    Therefore I’m indirectly paying the likes of Andrew Bolt, Ray Hadley and Murdoch’s croneys for the privilege of hearing them telling me I shouldn’t be subsidising the ABC, whether I listen to any of them them or not.

    That aspect is strangely never mentioned in any discussions about ABC funding.

    The privately owned media certainly don’t want the ABC to be privatised because they would all lose a proportion of the available advertising revenue as it is spread over a wider marketplace. They want it discredited and shut down.

    As for political bias, I recall both Bob Hawke and Neville Wran complaining about biassed commentary from the ABC.

  34. Lord John

    Dear Terry 2 I had quite penchant for Mrs Howell.
    Yes far more intellectual than question time.

  35. New England Cocky

    The attacks against the ABC are borne of the very real threat to the newspaper empire of the late Sir Kieth Murdoch & surviving Son. It has been a life long mantra and vendetta, resulting in high quality, objective news reporting at the ABC despite political interference from the NLP.

    The present NLP attack appears to be a prerequisite condition for political backing from News Ltd and the US citizen who controls about 70% of newspaper mastheads in Australia.

    Perhaps is time for us to demand the registration of the IPA as a political advocate and require it to disclose in 48 hour real time the donations received from individuals and corporations, ban political donations from foreign entities including natural persons, and restrict all public donations to such political advocates to no more than a total of $1,000.00 per rolling year ONLY from natural persons, who would then be taxed an additional 50% of donations over $100.00 for the pleasure.

    As the Greens re now saying, “Tax the Rich”.

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