Their ABC: Unrepentant and Unfixable

From the independent ABC Complaint Handling Review, released yesterday (emphasis added):

A related concern expressed during this review is that the ABC complaint process is seen as being less effective in dealing with more complex complaint issues of poor editorial judgement, inherent bias, unbalanced panel composition, or prejudicial investigative journalism. The complaint process may be less suited, for example, to dealing with an allegation that a content maker has a set perspective on the story to be told and selects only information that supports that perspective.

The flagship ABCTV 7pm News ran a “Climate Questions” feature for Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and SA last night (May 17) by reporter Kate McKenna who is the state political reporter for ABC News. By adroit selection of her on-screen talent Ms McKenna fashioned a typically-ABC piece of anti-government propaganda.

Her chosen authority on the climate topic was former Greenpeace spruiker “Dr Bill Hare, Climate Scientist” (Qld, 7.00 mins, Vic 18 mins, Tas 5.30 mins, SA 10 mins).[1] In reality he is renewables lobbyist Mr Bill Hare B.Sc. (Hons), Murdoch University. Mr (purportedly “Doctor”) Hare within a few seconds managed to say the Morrison policy on zero emissions was “quite bad”, the Albanese Labor policy was “mediocre” , the Teal (fake) independents were consistent with the Paris 2015 climate deal, and — here Mr/Dr Hare’s tone becomes even more warm — “Greens policy is even more so.”

Great! Vote Greens, everyone!

Ms McKenna also wheeled out a sole representative of the public, Lee-Ann Handley, to conveniently spruik the ABC’s line on zero-emissions. Here’s what Ms Handley had to say:

Australia has a shameful reputation for dealing with climate change. I would say it is Number One priority for me in terms of voting. I would want it to be on top of the government’s agenda.

Reporter McKenna adds, “Like many, Lee-Ann Handley is feeling the cost of living pressures, but it won’t be her key concern when she heads to the ballot box.”

Handley: A society that sacrifices the environment because of economics is highly reckless.

McKenna strives to back up Handley’s rant, saying, “More Australian raise climate change as their No. 1 issue than any other topic, according to the ABC’s Vote Compass, but it is receiving less attention from the leaders’ campaign than three years ago.” What Ms McKenna doesn’t mention is that Vote Compass respondents comprise self-selecting ABC viewers who are almost as “progressive” as the ABC reporters themselves.

So four days out from the election, the flagship ABCTV 7pm News does a hit job against the Morrison campaign, inflating the credentials of climate lobbyist Mr Bill Hare while dubbing him “Climate Scientist”, and choosing for a vox pop a lady keen to demand climate action, with no contrary view to be heard on the segment.

Moreover, any few seconds googling turns up that Ms Lee-Ann Handley is a go-to source for ABC reporters. On March 19 the ABC’s “video journalist” Baz Ruddick did a sob story about Ms Handley. She made an unwise decision to buy a house in flood-prone Rocklea, Brisbane, last year, spent nine months doing loan-funded renovating and then got flooded to gutter level a few months ago. We learn from Handley via Ruddick that she’s lost $170,000 from the floods, but as a full-time-employed teacher she earns too much money to access many government hardship grants.

Further googling finds she crowd-funded $1820 compared with her $1000 target, while she conceded,

There is an embargo on my street for flood insurance, like many in Rocklea we are not covered.

Hmmm. Not that I don’t feel for her as a fellow human but I hope she’s not teaching civics or economics.

But let’s get back to the ABC’s “Dr” Hare. He founded and runs the lavishly funded and Greenpeace-linked Climate Analytics lobby, endlessly quoted by the ABC and other Left media to buttress their anti-capitalist CO2 narrative. Climate Analytics was born from the dark-green Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) , which has led the way into Germany’s current energy crisis. PIK has its anti-gas and anti-coal tentacles all over Australia.

Hare is a spruiker in the green lawfare in WA against Woodside’s plan to build the $16.5 billion Scarborough gas project. His outfit wants an end to Australia’s thermal coal exports by 2030 and gas production ceasing soon after. Back from Glasgow last year, he gloated about COP26 forming “a new coalition, led by Denmark and Costa Rica, known as the Beyond Gas and Oil Alliance. Sooner rather than later, we can expect it to come for Australia’s fast-expanding LNG export industry.”

The woke Murdoch University by 2008 was so thrilled with Hare’s climate spiel that it gave him an Honorary Doctor of Science, citing, among other things, “his climate change activism and political acumen have seen him described as ‘the best climate lobbyist in the world’.” Then it told him he could strut his Honorary Ph.D. all over the place, contrary to long-established Murdoch, pan-academic and government protocols. (Don’t let someone with an Honorary Doctorate in Veterinary Science spay your Labradoodle).

“Dr” Bill Hare shamelessly allows media and institutions like “community educator” WA Museum Boola Bardip[2] to call him “Dr Hare” without correcting them. The museum and others have even called him a Nobel Laureate, which is good going for a bloke who got his B.Sc. (Hons) from Murdoch at the age of about 26. Indeed the Nobel Prize howler remains uncorrected to this day on the museum website. It also calls Hare a “world-leading climate policy expert”, and “The Master Mind … this homegrown superstar in the climate science arena”, with “expert opinions on the urgent action necessary for our survival.”

Bill Hare, thanks to Quadrant’s repeated exposure, has modified his credential on his website to “Bill Hare D.Sc. (hon. causa)”, the Latin noting that the doctorate is honorary. Sadly, ABC reporters don’t speak Latin. But type “Dr Bill Hare” into his Climate Analytics search box and you find it there 31 times. This absurdity is par for the course in climate “science”.

I’ve complained officially to the ABC multiple times about ABC hacks inflating Mr Hare to “Dr Hare”. Among the ABC’s amateurish reporters falling for “Dr” Hare have been Kerry O’Brien, Laura Tingle, Stephanie March (Four Corners), the ABC’s climate “expert” Michael Slezak, Sally Sara and, last but not least, Leigh Sales.

It just so happens that yesterday( May 17) the ABC published the independent McMillan/Carroll report on its in-house complaints handling system, initiated last October by chair Ita Buttrose in the wake of serious editorial failings and factual errors across some of its flagship programs. I’ll use the ABC’s repeated “Dr” Hare goof-offs as a case study to match ABC reality against ABC piety.

The inquiry terms of reference included

♦ Whether appropriate actions are taken and remedies provided for breaches of ABC editorial standards

♦ Measures taken by the ABC to ensure the organisation and its staff are fully informed about complaints and complaint outcomes

♦ Measures taken by the ABC to ensure that the complaint process is tied to continuous improvement in ABC editorial standards, and feeds into standards-setting, training and day-to-day content-making .

The inquiry recommendation outcomes included

The ABC make corrections and apologies more visible to audiences that may have an interest in receiving them, including by publishing a correction or apology on the same platform as the original content and at an equivalent time or place.

The ABC ensure that staff involved in pre-publication processes are alert to the findings and lessons stemming from the editorial complaint process.

In her submission to the inquiry, head of the ABC complaints unit Kirstin McLiesh described how efficient the ABC is at improving its ways after successful complaints. She says all ABC staff get a searchable log of the audience complaints and successful complaints  “are notified to content teams promptly”. If the issue is minor, she might just share the result with editorial advisers rather than directly with content teams. Her unit also writes frequent reports for staff about complaints and outcomes “as well as drawing attention to clusters in editorial underperformance or issues that have recurred or may recur.”

But the two-man inquiry team weren’t convinced, writing,

♦ A core purpose of complaint handling is to identify ways of improving organisational performance. For this to happen procedures must be in place to ensure that complaint lessons and outcomes are captured, circulated within the organisation, and acted upon.

♦ This is well understood within the ABC and appropriate structures have been adopted.

♦ However, it was evident in many submissions and stakeholder interviews that there is a perception that the ABC does not learn sufficiently from mistakes or other editorial policy breaches. A strongly held view is that there are few, or even no repercussions for staff found to have breached the ABC’s editorial standards. This perception has been reinforced by the ABC’s defensive response to adverse ACMA rulings and by social media activity by high profile staff… We nevertheless believe that a firm response is required within the ABC to the issues we have outlined. In a sense, there is ‘smoke’ and further efforts are required to douse the fires that have arisen regularly in recent years.”

Now let’s look at the (non-existent) impact of my successful complaints to the ABC about “Dr” Hare. I might add that the ABC is not alone in falling for Mr Bill Hare’s bombast. Just the other day The Age extolled lobbyist Hare as “Respected climate scientist Dr Bill Hare”, and the SMH and the Climate One propaganda outfit are keeping up the “Dr” nonsense. My ABC updated campaign diary reads:

April Fool’s Day, 2019: Four Corners transcript refers 13 times to Bill Hare as “Dr” Hare.

April 7, 2019: I complain to the ABC and request corrections. I say the ABC would not refer to comedian Mr Yahoo Serious as “Dr Serious” even though he has an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Newcastle University, 1996. Others are TV chat-show hostess and ex-Dolly editor “Dr of Letters Lisa Wilkinson” via Wollongong University and disillusioned Age cartoonist “Dr Michael Leunig”, three-fold endoctored via Latrobe, Griffith and ACU.

April 11, 2019: Four Corners executive producer Sally Neighbour responds,

I am advised that Bill Hare has an Honorary Doctorate of Science awarded to him in 2008 by Murdoch University for his work on climate change science and policy. Murdoch University itself refers to Bill Hare as ‘Dr’ in some of its publications. 

It is not uncommon practice to refer to people with Honorary Doctorates as ‘Dr’. I understand this is often qualified with the reference (h.c). For the purpose of our program, we did not feel this was necessary as most viewers or readers would not be familiar with the term. I am happy to take your comments onboard should we interview Bill Hare again on Four Corners. I will also convey your comments to Laura Tingle.

May 7, 2019: Michael Slezak on ABC News Analysis interviews “Dr” Bill Hare.

October 24, 2021: David Speers on Insiders interviews “Dr” Bill Hare.

Nov 5, 2021: RN Breakfast with Sally Sara: “Dr” Bill Hare again

Nov 11, 2021: ABC 7.30: A fawning Leigh Sales achieves six references to “Dr” Hare on one 7.30 program.

Nov 14, 2021: I complain again to the ABC about “Dr” Hare:

It is particularly egregious to refer to him in his science capacity as “Dr” Hare. A couple of years ago I complained about your use of “Dr” Hare and Sally Neighbour informed me the ABC would be more careful about it. Please correct all ABC versions where you call him “Dr” Hare — or at least explain that he has only an honorary doctorate for his lobbying activity.

After 18 days, on Dec 2, 2021, Matt Galvin of ABC News Management replies:

I have referred your concerns to ABC Language, a unit that meet (sic) regularly and advise (sic) ABC staff on correct language usage. They have pointed me to the ABC’s publicly-available style guide

 Titles (medical and academic)

Honorary doctorates do not usually confer the Dr title. A rule of thumb: if someone’s academic or medical status has no bearing on a story, they probably don’t need the courtesy title…

Considering the above, ABC News agrees that as Bill Hare is the CEO of Climate Analytics, it would have been sufficient in both of these recent instances to introduce him without the ‘Dr’ honorific. Please be assured that both programs will be advised about the correct usage of such references. Thank you for bringing this matter to the ABC’s attention.

So Four Corners and Laura Tingle stuffed up about “Dr” Hare in 2019, the ABC organised a corrective, Leigh Sales et al stuffed it up again and the ABC again conceded fault and applied its corrective to ensure it would be repeated no more. All well and good, the system seemed to be working, albeit with some sand in the gears. But the very day after I received the apology from ABC News Management’s Matt Galvin (Dec 2), the ABC published a new report by reporter Rebecca Turner (Dec 3) touting “Dr” Hare all over again.

Dr [sic] Hare, who received support from the CCWA [Conservation Council of WA] for the [Woodside] study, said WA did not need Scarborough gas to keep the lights on …”So really on the time scale of a decade or so, we could be 100 per cent renewable in the electricity space by the early 2030s, as are other places.” [Like where, exactly?].

Ms Turner confusingly called him “Bill Hare”, “Mr Bill Hare” and “Dr Hare” all within six paragraphs.

 So I file yet another complaint to the ABC on December 7:

Despite being twice advised that the ABC would cease calling Mr Bill Hare of Climate Analytics “Dr” Hare, ABC News has reverted to “Dr Hare” just one day after Matt Galvin (ABC News Management) assured me it wouldn’t happen. Can you please correct that Dec 3 report and take steps to ensure that ABC people cease referring to “Dr” Bill Hare. Thanks. 

Dec 8, 2021: ABC News Management’s Matt Galvin responds promptly and politely, “Thanks for pointing this out Tony – the correction has been made.”

However, instead of a correction, the ABC merely did a ‘stealth edit’ to remove the “Dr” from its reference to Hare.

May 17, 2022: For ABCTV 7pm News, it’s “Dr” Hare all over again.

May 17, 2022: I complain again to my friend,Ms McLiesh, at ABC Audience & Consumer Affairs. Watch this space.

Tony Thomas’ latest essay collection “Foot Soldier in the Culture Wars” ($29.95) is available from publisher ConnorCourt


[1] Bill Hare was a Greenpeace International spokesman as “Climate Policy Director” 1992-2002, its “Chief Climate Negotiator” in 2007, and a Greenpeace “legend”. Notwithstanding, he was also a 2007 IPCC lead author and an expert reviewer on two out of three sections of that report, and one of 40 people on the “core writing team” for the big-picture Synthesis Report. He was a lead author for the 2014 report. A list of funders on Climate Analytics website as at 2018 includes Greenpeace Foundation, Australian Conservation Fund (ACF), Christian Aid (huh?), World Bank, UNEP, Carnegie, and numerous EU and German agencies. It has more than 30 scientists on its payroll.


[2] “WA Museum Boola Bardip” is its real name, don’t laugh.

8 thoughts on “Their ABC: Unrepentant and Unfixable

  • Ceres says:

    Great stuff Tony to see you being a dog with a bone. Tenacity on steroids. Obviously water off a duck’s back to the ABC who have been out of control for years. They don’t care because they know Libs are too scared to touch them and Labor have a ready made propaganda arm.

  • Suburban Boy says:

    The ABC – once a great institution – is now irredemable.

    Proposals to privatise the organisation (such as the IPA’s) miss the point: the ABC is a cancer in the Australian body politic and changing its ownership will not make it less of a mortal threat to our nation.

    Shut it down.

  • Brian Boru says:

    Excellent job Tony, please keep it going.

  • IainC says:

    This example is not just status-inflationary puffery, it’s an egregiously misleading piece of propaganda clearly designed to reinforce the link “described as climate expert + has a PhD therefore has deep academic training in and knowledge of climate science: conclusion – everything he says must be true”. There is no link in reality, and therefore he has the status of layman or perhaps well-read amateur, as do many of us who take the contrary position to many climate myths that purport to be scientifically demonstrated. Tony, you are right to highlight and break this link, and all power to your doggedness.
    (Disclaimer: I’m not at all bitter that it took me 6 years, 3 of them part-time at nights and on weekends, to earn a real PhD in science.)

  • Daffy says:

    I guess that as “…procedures must be in place…” according to the report, that’s OK. I’d prefer if the procedures were applied/used/obeyed, not just left ‘in place’ on a shelf next to old Muddle Headed Wombat scripts. Thus the use of that hackneyed, usually redundant, cant phrase ‘in place’ to avoid doing something while at the same time touting that one does do something.

  • Stephen says:

    Over the years I have worked for businesses and organizations both large and small. In all of them any one told repeatedly not to do something would be fired if they continued to do it. I resent tax dollars being used to pay these deceitful ABC mouthpieces there six figure salaries but I would be quite relaxed if taxes were used to pay them the dole.

  • Botswana O'Hooligan says:

    We have the wrong approach to our wonderful ABC for we don’t have the finesse that other countries have. An example was one country I lived in had absolutely no import restrictions on foreign built motor cars tho to get the import paperwork one had to attend a facility at the end of a goat track up an alp and the staff were permanently out to lunch or whatever. A caring Parliament could transfer the ABC head office and all studios to say Pannawonica in rural WA in this day and age of electronic wizardry and one is certain the ABC staff with all their couth and culture would be most welcome. Heard Island is another possibility for those who enjoy the cooler weather.

  • Geoff Sherrington says:

    Like many other scientists, I have mixed with thousands of other scientists over the decades, but I can recall only 3 who had earned the Full Monty Doctor of Science. They were Prof S. Warren Carey, Tasmania, geologist, D.Sc. in 1935. Dr Clarence J Hardy, D.Sc. from Oxford, a major contributor to the understanding of nuclear physics and its place in Australia. And Sir Geoffrey Malcolm Badger AO DSc FAA FRACI FTSE FACE FAIM, past Vice Chancellor, University of Adelaide. Chemist.
    All three are, sadly, deceased. All three were giants in their fields, both in academic and administrative duties.
    I agree with you that a D.Sc. is a high achievement, one even that few Nobel Laureates have achieved and one that it is shameful to demean in the way you have described. Geoff S

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