Turnbull defends ABC independence

lm-turnbCommunications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has defended the ABC’s independence following Tony Abbott’s volatile comments that the broadcaster “instinctively takes everyone’s side but Australia’s.”

Fairfax reports Turnbull said the ABC was accountable to its board of directors and not politicians.

”What’s the alternative? The [ABC] editor-in-chief becomes the prime minister?” he said.

”Politicians, whether prime ministers or communications ministers, will often be unhappy with the ABC … but you can’t tell them what to write.”

He also noted that the ABC was more constrained by rules around editorial fairness than its competitors.

”The ABC has to play it straight down the middle. The ABC has a bargain with the Australian people. They have to be rigorously balanced in their coverage. Remember, if it wasn’t for the ABC and Fairfax we might not know of the latest round of union corruption.”

Former ABC managing director David Hill said the prime minister’s comments suggested the ABC should censor and withhold information from the Australian public.

ABC managing director Mark Scott is yet to comment on the Prime Minister’s remarks.

Does the ABC present balanced news?

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  1. This is why I like Malcolm Turnbull. Too bad he isn’t the PM. Although I’m not liking the sound of the inquiry (or is it inquisition? ) into the ABC and SBS presumably because of his party’s philosophy of being against a fair press. Not to mention institutions being for the many and not just a few individuals.

    Both the Labor Party and the Liberal Party overlooked the deregulation of the car industry. It went from 80% of the market to 10%. I wonder if the television industry in Australia can survive that level of deregulation. Because I won’t be surprised if both of them do it to both the commercial and government broadcasters.

  2. The ABC reports fairly across the board. In the Howard years, in the Rudd/Gillard years it reported everything. The ABC do a great job (much better than Nine, Seven and TEN combined).

  3. I think the ABC tries very hard to be impartial and fully informed. They make mistakes, of course, but they manage to do an impressive job. Compared to the superficial agenda-dominated commercial networks they do a miraculous job.

    Only SBS can compare.

  4. cynical old codger

    @David Knox

    David in the context of your item and the poll above, will you eventually combine the totals of options ‘1’ and ‘3’ simply because there is no option of towards ‘whom’, regarding credibility or bias that mostly depends entirely within the eyes/mind of each voter?

  5. Funny how the Murdoch Sydney “Telegraph” today is screaming Tony Abbott’s headline, the SM Herald is screaming Malcom Turnbull’s headline. Were it not for the ABC we would probably never have become aware of the Reserve Bank/Note Printing bribes, the violence and child sexual abuse in Aboriginal communities, expose of the cruelty inflicted on Australian cattle in the slaughterhouses of Indonesia, the Catholics schools abuses in Newcastle, and much more.
    @desmondg – Tony Abbott has a standing invitation to appear on Q&A, but he won’t. 2GB, Bolt? No worries. “What time suits you Ray/Alan/Andrew?”. No criticism of bias at 2GB I see.

  6. cynical old codger


    Even the Drum tries to lighten things up, and invite clowns as guests? but you are correct Mr Reith is only just one of many regulars.

  7. At no point in any of this has the ABC accused the RAN of anything. Every report has used terminology such as “Indonesian Police say…”, and “it has been alleged…” etc.
    Similarly, every subsequent report by other sources has employed much the same style of language.

    But rather than see that as a report into allegations made against the RAN by Indonesian authorities – one that ordinarily would solicit a government investigation – the accusation that the ABC is unpatriotic is being trotted out by Abbott and his media supporters.

    It’s good to see Malcolm Turnbull being a voice of reason in this. Let’s hope that the ABC continues to remain a viable source of quality news coverage, and not become a mouthpiece of this government.

  8. @Pertinax “The ABC is totally unconstrained by any editorial rules or fairness. ”

    The ABCs charter is very tight, and they stick to it really well. they aren’t alowed to publish opinion based stories without clearly stating so. They also aren’t alowed to favour a particular Policital Party or point of View.

    All they did was publish a story based on some “Allegations” – It’s the PMs job to say whether the Allegations are true or not.

  9. jezza the first original one

    I hate the left side of politics with a passion. Not the people, the politics. I find the ABC and SBS the best source of news. The ABC by its very nature maybe on accasion slightly leaning to the left, as an organisation it is more likely to produce folk who join the ALP than the Libs. If you are a left leaning journo, you may struggle to find a job in a largely right of centre privately owned media. All PMs at some stage moan about a section of the media. It is ironic that Tony Abbott chose a day to have a dig at the ABC when they ran the story about organised crime and the building unions. Great story and so typical of union behaviour

  10. @Pertinax – “they still haven’t conceded that the allegations are not true.”
    Who says they are true or not true? ABC should say they were wrong because Tony Abbott says they were? Abbott says ‘no enquiry. Give the RAN the benefit of the doubt’. Strange way to run a country. Seems 77 percent are OK with the ABC, in the above.

  11. “”What’s the alternative? The [ABC] editor-in-chief becomes the prime minister?”. Well, The PM wants to become the ABC Editor-in-Chief.
    Poor Malcolm, being constantly embarrassed by his by-one-vote-leader.
    “He is in the Liberal party so Labor voters automatically do not like him”. Not so. I’d vote LNP in a heartbeat if Malcolm was their leader. I voted ALP last time. After all, he did invent the Internet, according to Tony Abbott.

  12. As I keep saying, I find it disgusting that the PM has not criticized the biased right wing press. Surely they have mis-reported and sensationalized the news more?

    If the PM had been impartial in his crticism of the press, he would appear to be more fair and balanced. Unfortunately, he appears to be a hard right PM.

  13. The ABC is totally unconstrained by any editorial rules or fairness. Turnbull is playing to his inner city electorate, which exclusively watches the ABC, when MKR isn’t on.

    In this instance the ABC used false allegations to attack the Government’s press conference policy because they don’t like it. And you’ll not they still haven’t conceded that the allegations are not true.

    The ABC selectively reports opinion as fact as much as any politician does.

  14. Unfortunately, this man will never get the chance to run the country. He is in the Liberal party so Labor voters automatically do not like him, and he is too near the centre of politics for the majority of Liberal party voters to like him.

    Yet he, and several politicians like him (from both sides of the political fence) are exactly the kind of leaders we need… but maybe not deserve 🙁

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