Drain the ABC Swamp, Mr Turnbull

turnbull and the toxic helixDear 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,


James Allan, Garrick Professor of Law at the University of Queensland, is the author of Democracy in Decline


7 thoughts on “Drain the ABC Swamp, Mr Turnbull

  • DRW says:

    The ABC has a big following among the North Shore madams, it’s better to wait and let the ABC alienate them.
    Malcolm Turnbull is using the ABC to destabilise the Liberal Party so he can assume Leadership.
    Research why the Roman Empire collapsed. It’s the same mindset that’s destroying US.

  • Patrick McCauley says:

    We have been waiting for the ABC to change for more than a decade – they will not, and with third finger in the air. This morning Jon Faine spent an hour suggesting and discussing various methods of fraud with which the new tax cuts to small business could be rorted. Emma Alberici and Leigh Sales are nasty bullies when the mood takes them – and they continually indulge themselves with outrageous and tacky fashion that blinds us to the news. The comedy is delinquent and adolescent – low brow smart arse bullshit, and then all the doco’s they produce which are watched in Aboriginal Communities – enabling alcoholism and truancy – Last week one of the Aunties was actually encouraging a young Aboriginal boy not to go to school – why should you have to learn the language of the invaders, she said. Drugs and binge drinking were represented as an alternative to male initiation – with a sort of romanticism. The ABC is dumb and mindless – ignorant of the possibilities that its privilege could reap.

  • says:

    The simple and plain reason why Turnbull does nothing about the blatant left bias of the ABC is that, given half a chance, he would sing off the same song sheet as those stalwarts at the ABC. He is barely restrained as it is. He freely advocates his views on catastrophic AGW, on gay marriage, on republicanism. Without the restraint of being a cabinet minister in a centre-right government, he would be indistinguishable from Labour or even the Greens. It is something of a conundrum why he doesn’t quit the Liberals and free himself from the shackles and join a party more compatible with his world view. Perhaps he knows that Labour wouldn’t have him and he can’t see much of a future with the Greens. If Tony Abbott knew how to be safely rid of him, he wouldn’t hesitate for a moment.

    Bill Martin.

  • Jody says:

    Part of Turnbull’s ideological problem is his constituency – inner urban ‘progressives’ (you know the one; two steps forward, one step backwards) and an anything-goes mindset. However, whatever expedient Malcolm “Talkbull” has to adopt to garner attention – no matter how contradictory – he will adopt. I’d like to see ScMo (Scott Morrison) as the Minister for Communications. That’d put the cat amongst the pigeons (or rats, depending on your viewpoint).

  • says:

    Charles Moore – Margaret Thatcher’s official biographer – wrote, as one might expect, a fine article last week in the UK Telegraph about the recent UK election which you can read here –

    I think a lot of what he says applies in Australia in that most people see the bias and quietly make their own minds up. This doesn’t explain why the Greens and ALP do far better in elections than they probably would if voting were voluntary but that’s not my main point.

    My main point is this – I’m sure the Government has market and focus group tested attacking or cutting funding to the ABC. We can only presume the results weren’t good. In other words the time will come to slay the dragon but it’ll have to be picked with great caution – eg Cameron’s latest action. In any event yes the ABC operates against its legal charter but there is no legal penalty for this. Put in a legal penalty – especially monetary – that applies to the board and executives personally and it won’t be long be they actually do something.

  • says:

    We use to have Red Kerry, now we have Red Sales in the Sunset.

    Thanks ABC.

  • says:

    Turnbull no longer has anything to gain by keeping the ABC on side. He was always naive to think he would continue to be given soft treatment if he became leader of the Coalition but now Scott Morrison is the obvious heir-apparent, so he may as well give up and do his job.

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