The government’s continued attacks on the ABC make it seem like it’s trying to avoid scrutiny
How popular is the ABC? So popular that the Australia Institute polled voters in the contested seat of Mayo and discovered 74% of respondents think the government should increase ABC funding. So popular that while not a single Liberal at their council meeting spoke against the motion to privatise, within 24 hours of a social media explosion, Josh Frydenberg – government minister – was a-hustle on Sky News, pledging: “It is not going to be sold and it can never be sold.”
Egged on by conservative think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs (of which Mitch Fifield just happens to be a member), the Liberal-National mania to destroy independent broadcasting has resulted in 800 job losses and 60% fewer hours of factual programming by the ABC since the Abbott came to power. There’s 20% less drama, 13.5% fewer documentaries. There is no popular will for this. Losing precious, job-creating Australian content is just collateral damage in a Liberal party crusade.
“We won’t privatise the ABC,” Mitch Fifield has now said. Of course, Liberal Senator James Patterson has been calling for the ABC to be privatised since 2014, and Senator James McGrath has demanded the same. Liberal MP Kevin Andrews is a member of a “privatise the ABC” Facebook group, started by Victorian Liberal MP, Bernie Finn. And in 2008, Fifield himself there was “merit” in privatisation proposals.
The reason parliament legislated the independence of the ABC back in 1947 was among post-war realisations that political processes must be transparent or democracy is compromised.