ABC pushes for independently-hosted Debates

ABC managing director Mark Scott says Election debates and forums should never again be organised by media companies or political parties.

He criticised the Rooty Hill forum *pictured), broadcast on SKY News and only offered on a 1hr delay to ABC.

”The ratings showed fewer than 100,000 people watching compared to more than three million who saw the leaders’ debate,” he said.

“Of course, this is because it was behind a pay wall and designed for a pay-TV audience with hours to fill in a schedule. SKY argued at the time it was a television program, not a news event, and denied anyone else live access.”

The second forum at Brisbane’s Broncos Leagues Club gave a live feed, and was broadcast by the ABC.

“The events, the venues, the panels, the hosts should be set by a totally independent panel and commonly understood, a year before the date of the election,” Mr Scott said in a speech at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival.

Source: The Australian


  1. The way debates are currently organised in Australia is obscene. The two major parties get together and agree on a format that will avoid their candidates having to answer too many difficult questions. Minor parties are locked out of the process. The number of debates will always be the lowest number desired by either party – if one party wants one and the other two or three – there’ll be just one.

    An independent commission must be set up to ensure debates are organised in a fair and transparent fashion, independent of the two major parties. That way the interests of voters, rather than the two major parties, would be served.

  2. It shouldn’t be a TV boss calling for this. These debates and “town halls” should be prescribed in the Electoral Act and open to all media; television, radio, online, whatever else is yet to come into being.

  3. I guess one major bone of contention with the Rooty Hill event was that it was, as mentioned above, organised by News Corporation. One only has to read its various newspapers in Australia (for example The Australian and Daily Telegraph) to know that coverage was always going to be slanted in favour of the conservatives.

  4. oh the poor babies didn’t get their way, now they want their mummy to make decisions for them.
    if the abc was fast thinking, quick to react, then they’d have organised Rooty Hill.
    Instead, the little darls want everything to be organised a year in advance.

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