Let me be blunt. If this Coalition government extends Mark Scott’s term as the ABC’s managing director for a year, or even for two minutes, then I will not vote for them, no matter how awful the alternative. Spoiled ballot here I come.
Remember, this is an ABC that blatantly does not meet its statutory obligation to be impartial. How many presenters and producers of the ABC’s top TV current affairs shows are there with a right-of-centre pedigree? Zero. Nada. None. For Mark Scott that is not a problem. He brushes it off with insouciant ease. Of course, he mutters, all these ABC lefties (I paraphrase for him) are able to put aside their personal views and act impartially and so provide a down-the-middle unbiased picture – on climate change, boat people, spending restraint, are you laughing yet?
You can imagine that the ABC managing director would not be so unconcerned if every producer and presenter were a male; he would not be mouthing the line ‘that these men are fully capable of presenting the daily news and politics in a way that represents women just as much as men’. No, Mr Scott would make damned sure that some women got hired. And if he didn’t, the ABC board would demand that he did.
For wholly unrepresented conservatives (be they small government types or social conservatives, it matters not for both strains are absent) Scott does not lift a finger. He does nothing. He presides over a network that leans so far to the left (I steal this line from a British journalist) that it makes the BBC look like Fox News.
Well, this Abbott government that daily gets affected by the bias of the ABC (in terms of what news is run, what news is emphasised, who is interviewed, who is not interviewed, and so on) already looks pathetically weak when it comes to standing up to the ABC. Look at the UK. The Tories there regularly accuse the BBC of bias. Here, the Coalition barely utters a peep. It acquiesces in its own terrible treatment.
Now I know how it works, that the ABC Board will pick Scott’s successor. And the minister in charge is Malcolm Turnbull. So that is no comfort at all, not with an ABC so lacking in impartiality that I don’t want my taxes going to this billion-dollar-a-year behemoth. None a penny of them. But as there is no chance of the Abbott government doing anything remotely tough on this front, it can at least have the good graces to tell Mr. Scott and his three-quarters-of-a-million-dollar salary that hell will freeze over before he gets an extension.
Do it openly, Tony. Say why Scott’s contract is not being extended. Demand that the board appoint someone who will make the ABC abide by its statutory obligations. That is the very, very, very least a Coalition government should do.