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John Passant

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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)



It’s as simple as Murdoching the ABC

Tony Abbott has the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in his sights. In a recent interview with Ray Hadley, a 2GB right-wing shonk jock, Abbott said:  “A lot of people feel at the moment that the ABC instinctively takes everyone’s side but Australia’s.”

My suspicion is that ‘Australia’s side’ is what Abbott and the rest of his conservative coven thinks it is. L’etat, c’est moi.

So apparently the ABC instinctively chooses the ‘other’ side. Let’s test this.

Australia, for its own ruling class interests, sent troops to Afghanistan to support the US, just as it had done before in Iraq, Vietnam, Korea etc etc.  I have searched the ABC website but I cannot find any support for the Taliban there. Surely support for the Taliban would be an indicator of ‘instinctive support for everyone’s side but Australia’s.’

OK, what Abbott might mean is that the ABC has raised doubts about Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan. Again I searched their websites and I found reporting about Afghanistan, not analysis.  Surely Abbott can’t mean that reporting something like the war in Afghanistan (an invasion by Western Imperialism really) is going against this mythical ‘Australia’s side’?

Well, maybe he does. The Coalition government was apoplectic about the ABC releasing, together with the Guardian, details of Australian spies having tapped the phones of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife and other close associates.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the supposed liberal among the rabids, called it an error of judgement.

Somehow a news agency releasing news is an error of judgement? For the conservatives it is when it puts further strain on a relationship the Government through its racist stop the boats policies is destroying quite nicely thank you.

It was the same reaction (in both senses of the word) when the ABC aired footage of refugees with burnt hands and claims that the Australian Navy had forced them to hold onto pipes that burnt their hands while being towed back.

Again this is factual reporting but according to Abbott and Morrison we have to accept the word of the defence force that nothing happened. Yeah, the sort of defence force members who write on the websites of an Australian fascist organisation that they are off to sort those refugees out.

There is more evidence for a Royal Commission into the defence force’s treatment of refugees than there is for one into union ‘corruption’.

What Abbott and Morrison want is not an end to so called biased reporting. They don’t want reporting that of itself undermines their policies or ‘logic’.

To put it crudely, when the ABC reports news that supports the Government’s agenda (e.g. in the main unsubstantiated claims about union corruption), the Government praises it for doing its job.

When it reports a story that reflects badly on this government it is somehow taking everybody’s side but Australia’s. This is a dictatorial world view, driven by populism and nationalism, the two main enemies of class analysis.

Many conservatives have long viewed the ABC as ‘the enemy’.  For some this is because of their free market ideology. Others view the ABC as biased against them, although a study of the 2010 election indicated that on the basis of length of reports about Liberal and National Party  versus Labor Party members and views it is about fifty fifty and if anything doesn’t give enough time to the Greens given their roughly ten percent support.

The Coalition wants the ABC to be as rabid in its support of the Abbott government as the Murdoch Press.   That won’t happen, but there will be death by a thousand cuts to ensure it more closely toes the government line. The just announced efficiency review of the ABC and the Special Broadcasting Service is one example.

If efficiency is the guide for publication then Rupert Murdoch’s The Australian, which has not made a profit in any of its 49 years of existence and is currently hæmorrhaging $50 million of small change from Rupert’s purse should fold immediately.

Of course the efficiency review is about doing more with less and it is no accident a former CFO of a TV station has been appointed to undertake the ‘efficiency’ review. The end result will be less money for the ABC and further cuts to its already stretched services.

Indeed a 2006 KPMG report found the ABC to be efficient and underfunded.

ABC management will get the hint from the Abbott Government. Toe the line and the money will be OK. Don’t and we’ll screw you.

Long term the aim is to commodify the ABC and SBS. But like health and education this will, given popular support, have to be a very slow process.

With Labor adopting neoliberalism and implementing it in Australia from 1983 onwards, the nature of the media has moved more and more to the right in its reporting and commentary. The ABC has not been immune from this march to the right.  Whereas News Limited is the voice of the fruitcake faction of capital, the ABC is the centre-right ‘sensible’ and ‘balanced’ voice of capital.

The ABC was set up in 1932, in the middle of the Depression. It was a symbol of a unified Australia able to provide services across the country (although that took some time.) Because the tyranny of distance made commercial media less profitable in rural and regional ares, the ABC was and still is a vehicle for news and information in the bush, which is why many country Australians support it.

The ABC performed an important function for capital of keeping citizens informed. That role is under challenge for two reasons.

Neoliberalism doesn’t want or, it imagines, need informed citizens. In addition the new media and electronic delivery options are undermining the ABC and indeed all of the mainstream media.

The individualism at the heart of neoliberalism seems also to have created a cohort of people not interested in politics, economics or anything other than their cats and what they had for lunch (if Facebook is any guide).

The debate of no debate

I will defend the ABC against conservative attacks but in the full knowledge that the ABC is just another mouthpiece for the neoliberals who run society and with an occasional alternative (!) Keynesian view.

The ABC reflects the narrow focus of debates within capitalism.  It is a hotbed of difference in the context of accepting capitalism as the normal way to do things.

So is there an alternative? Allow me a flight of fancy. In the past media workers have during major strikes and social upheavals produced their own papers, radio and TV. They have shifted the focus from capital to labour. I look forward to ABC workers taking over the corporation, getting rid of all the overpaid sooks and reporting working class news and views.







Pingback from It’s as simple as Murdoching the ABC | OzHouse
Time January 30, 2014 at 6:11 pm

[…] Jan 30 2014 by admin […]

Comment from Peter Lang
Time January 31, 2014 at 8:18 am

The ABC has become Australia’s Pravda. Left wing propaganda. Cheer leader of the hate media – hate Howard, hate Abbott, hate the Coalition, hate economically rational policies, hate the rich, hate the miners, hate those who don’t accept the Left’s repugnant moral values (such de-populate the world and prolong world poverty for as long as possible), hate fossil fuels, hate those who don’t accept the loony greenies extremist beliefs. Now doubt, the Left are the real haters, and the Left wing media is the real hate media.

Here’s a few moreI left out a few the Left hate: hate big business, hate globalisation, hate corporations, hate small business, hate free-trade, hate nuclear energy, hate the Defence force, ….

Interesting, isn’t it, that ‘the Australian’ journalists had to go and find out what really happened to the attempted illegal immigrants who had burnt hands. What’s happened to the ABC which, once upon a time could be relied on to provide unbiased, objective, impartial news service? Now it’s completely run bu people of far left persuasion – and extremist greenies – from top to bottom.

Comment from Hasbeen
Time January 31, 2014 at 9:29 am

Well, what do you know. Someone is finally taking aim at what has become the greatest enemy of the people of Oz.

When a dog starts biting the family members, you put it down, before it kills someone. Probably a bit late for that with the ABC, but lets put it down before it kills a lot more.

This incestuous love child of the left has no place in a democratic society, where special interest organisations should be funded by their supporters, not the tax payer.

Comment from Geoffrey Kelley
Time January 31, 2014 at 11:15 am

John, we do not need to “Murdochise” the ABC. All we need is fair comment from both sides. Would you be satisfied if the ABC ‘paired off’ the political commentators such that for every Tony Jones we had an Andrew Bolt? For every Flannery we had a fair go for Jennifer Marohasy?
Geoffrey Kelley

Comment from singletonengineer
Time January 31, 2014 at 11:28 am

Hasbeen, did you read the article? With absolutely no evidence to support your opinion, you have charged in with accusations that the ABC is leftist, etc, etc.

This was shown to be simply not true, both historically and recently, eg the 50/50 line taken during the last federal election.

What news source do you recommend? What source of social comment? Did not recent Newspoll results indicate that the ABC and SBS, in several formats, are consistently trusted by more than half of the population and that commercial print, radio and TV journalism were entirely distrusted by more than half of the population?

Where does that leave your statement about the ABC having no place in a democratic society?

Society has spoken democratically, and it is very decidedly in favour of the ABC.

Put more simply, Australia and Australians need the the ABC in order to provide a trusted source because the commercial providers have failed.

Comment from paul walter
Time January 31, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Geoffrey Kelly’s comment is beyond naive.
Bolt and Jones (Jones..Leftwing, wtf, wtf??!!); both exist within the mediasphere, for at least a little diversity as to the forms of journalism they represent, but work from different media pulpits.

I’d have been more comfortable with Geoff if he had instead suggested that the Murdoch press first, finally hire a few progressives to balance out the monotonous wall to wall rightist bias..

THEN we could have gone to a nit pick about Auntie, an organising already gelded to a shadow of its real potential.

Is THAT “patriotic” enough, Geoff?

Comment from Chris Warren
Time January 31, 2014 at 3:47 pm

If the extreme Right had their way, Kevin Cloud and Stephen Fry would be banned from the ABC:


Comment from Lorikeet
Time January 31, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Here is my answer to someone who sent me an email on this issue:

I think we need to keep the ABC and I am neither a Labor nor Greens voter. I don’t see why the Coalition or Rupert Murdoch should have all of the say either.

We need to hear more from the DLP, KAP, Nick Xenophon and like minded Independents. I think they get more of a hearing on the ABC than anywhere else, and they are all Pro-Australian politicians, a very scarce commodity these days.

Even a few more words from PUP would be interesting.

However I do get sick of seeing exactly the same programs over and over on ABC24, but I do appreciate the coverage from overseas countries e.g. the Aljazeera News Hour and another program that comes from Africa. There are also too many repeat programs on ABC1, especially during the Christmas break.