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September 10th 2013 print

Mal Wedd

For $1B a year you expect balance already!

Voters in the marginal seat of Eden-Monaro were treated on election day to reports of Kevin Rudd's good works and, just to be fair, an update on the Greens' plan to  "Abbott-proof" the Senate. An inquiry into the national broadcaster is long overdue


It must be frustrating for ABC employees to feel themselves under siege over the issue of political bias when their balanced performance is so apparent. The childish name-calling they endure from the broadcaster’s critics — "ALPBC", "Red Kerry", "Mr Just-Hired Trioli", etc — must be so galling. On my way to the polling booth in Eden-Monaro last Saturday, this legendary balance was again on full and open display.


During a news segment, which went for 10-15 minutes, a significant amount of time was devoted to what our then-PM was doing and how he is “fighting to build jobs”. This was followed by a lengthy audio of the PM telling listeners what he was doing and how he is “fighting to build jobs”.

Just as I was thinking that the ABC had left little time left to include some Coalition comment by way of balance, the ABC’s even-handedness was displayed in the form of a report on what Christine Milne was doing and how she is “fighting to Abbott-proof the Senate”. This was followed by an audio clip of Milne telling listeners what she was doing and her fight "to Abbott-proof the Senate”. Unfortunately the time allocated for political news then ended.

Some half an hour later, the next news bulletin contained a slightly different report and audio regarding our then-PM. Alas, on this occasion time limitations prevented balance by the Greens from being broadcast. 

If you drive a lot in country areas, as I do, audible radio stations are few and far between, but you are rarely outside the reach of Their  ABC and its peculiar idea of ‘balance’.  Road noise is often the preferable and sanity-preserving choice.

It is not clear to me if the news I heard was statewide or broadcast only to the south coast of NSW – the marginal Eden-Monaro electorate. It is also not clear if Their ABC broadcast at other times and elsewhere reported on what the Liberals or Nationals or anyone else might have been doing and saying. It would be interesting to see an analysis of ABC political news in this and other bellwether seats to establish if the Greens/ALP balance was consistently applied. What is clear is that a casual political observer on his or her way to an Eden-Monaro polling booth should have been entitled to a few words from the Coalition about its aspirations.

Like many, I would love to be involved in a review of the ABC to ensure that its Charter requirement for balance is fully satisfied. So what about it, Prime Minister Abbott? How about a good, hard look at the national broadcaster, its content, those who run it and how and whom they hire.

As the ABC costs the taxpayer in excess of $1 billion per year, wouldn’t it be a good idea to see if we are getting value for money — and maybe a little fairness as well?

Mal Wedd lives in the Eden-Monaro electorate and is thankful that there are other sources of political news and information. For news and information on the ALP and Greens, however, he just has to go for a drive