Sarah Ferguson has defended an interview she conducted with Treasurer Joe Hockey last year on 7:30 following an audit of ABC TV’s budget coverage.
“The interview speaks for itself,” she told Fairfax Media.
But the tone of the interview, audited by former editor of The Australian Financial Review, Colleen Ryan, may have breached the ABC’s impartiality guidelines.
“In my view, the language in Ferguson’s first question was emotive,” she found. “I also believe that the average viewer would consider that the Treasurer was not treated with sufficient respect by the interviewer.”
Ferguson had asked Hockey:
“Now, you’ve just delivered that budget…..It’s a budget with a new tax, with levies, with co-payments. Is it liberating for a politician to decide election promises don’t matter?
“I don’t need to teach you, Treasurer, what a tax is. You know that a co-payment, a levy and a tax are all taxes by any other name.”
Ryan found: “In my view, these two exchanges do not meet the impartiality guidelines to treat the interviewee ‘with civility and respect unless there is a compelling reason not to do so’.”
But she also found Ferguson “is an aggressive interviewer who treats both sides of politics in the same manner and gives no sense of where her own political views may lay”.
ABC Head of News Kate Torney responded, “ABC News does not believe Ms Ferguson’s questions were hostile or unbalanced; rather they were astute and prescient.”
Ferguson was nominated for a Walkley Award for the interview.