If the Communications Minister cannot or will not bring himself to make the national broadcaster honour its Charter obligations, perhaps because he seems to get gentler treatment than any of his cabinet colleagues, decency obliges him to resign
Dear Minister Turnbull,
I write to ask you to do your job as the Minister for Communications. Part of that job is to oversee the ABC. As you well know, the ABC receives some billion dollars of taxpayer monies annually and has a statutory obligation to be impartial. It patently is not meeting that obligation. Managing Director Mark Scott does nothing, absolute zero, about the fact he cannot point to a single, solitary presenter or producer of a big-ticket current affairs television show with a right-of-centre pedigree. All lefties, the lot of them.
Mr. Scott insouciantly ignores this, as does the Board of the ABC, which could demand action or fire Mr. Scott. Alas, the ABC Board does nothing either.
Meantime, Leigh Sales interviews Treasurer Joe Hockey in one manner (below), and the Opposition Shadow Treasurer in – how shall I put this? – a somewhat different manner. One man gets interrupted, yelled and sneered at, dismissed; the other gets the genuflection of deferential treatment. Would you care to guess who got which treatment?
It is no small thing to allege that the ABC leans further left than its equivalents in the UK (the BBC there) or in Canada (the CBC there). But it does. Check it out and see that the BBC actually does employ some with right-of-centre of backgrounds. Quite a few in fact. And the CBC is constrained by the need to take advertising, so to keep viewers it is not wholly free to run a network soley for the amusement of inner-city, left-leaning, Tory-hating, avant-garde, fair-trade coffee sippers. No such constraints seem to limit ‘our’ or rather ‘their’ ABC.
Let me be blunt. The ABC is a disgrace, and you ought to be doing something about it. You could, for example, ask for the immediate resignations of each and every board member. They may or may not comply, but you would at least make the point that you are disgusted by the national broadcaster’s refusal to honour its charter. Failing that, you could hold a press conference and blast the whole organisation.
And if you think that’s ‘just not done’, take a look at the United Kingdom, where the Tory government under Prime Minister Cameron has been attacking the BBC for its bias. The Tories do it openly and clearly and with examples. Is this too much for you, a man overseeing an even more biased organisation, to do likewise? True, your ABC interviewers treat you with kindness and kid gloves. But what of your cabinet colleagues, like Mathias Corman, who was last night interrupted, sneered at and shouted down by Lateline‘s Emma Alberici, as you will see in the video below.
I ask because British Prime Minister Cameron has just put a new minister in charge of the BBC, post his election win. He has appointed one of the BBC’s biggest critics in his caucus, Mr. John Whittingdale, as the new Culture Minister overseeing the BBC. This is a man who has called out the bias regularly and often and wants to pare the BBC’s funding, possibly quite dramatically.
If you don’t wish to do your job as regards ensuring that the half of voters in this country who lean right actually get a bit of representation out of the billion dollars funnelled to Mr. Scott and the ABC, please step down and let Mr. Abbott follow Mr. Cameron in appointing a minister to oversee the ABC who will force this behemoth to follow its statutory requirement to be impartial – which at present is just a bad joke in Ultimo-land, continually and insouciantly ignored.
I very much look forward to hearing back from you.
James Allan, Garrick Professor of Law at the University of Queensland, is the author of Democracy in Decline