Election 2013 media panel

Abbott to give Aunty a haircut

Those who have listened to the recent podcast I took part in will be aware of my concern that the ABC would face cuts under an Abbott government.

Is the risk that I speak of real? The answer is almost certainly, yes.

Too bad then that journalists are approaching this important public issue as though it’s some kind of joke.

The matter finally gained some attention last night on ABCTV’s QandA when shadow treasurer Joe Hockey was asked by a viewer if the coalition had plans to privatise the ABC. Bizarrely, the question was treated with something bordering on hilarity.

ABC & SBS “waste” to be cut - scroll to 54:20.

The tone only become serious when treasurer Chris Bowen pointed out that the Coalition refuses to promise that it will maintain funding to either the ABC or the SBS.

“Well”, said Hockey, “If there’s waste, we’ll cut it”.

In political terms, you can’t get much clearer than that.

So what happened next?

Tony Jones looks down the barrel of the lens to announce: “We have time for one last question”.

At least the public got to learn a little about waste - of opportunity.

This morning’s offering from ABC radio was little better, with this from reporter Ashley Hall -

“Mr Hockey acknowledged there are some tough choices ahead in shaping the federal budget. So could those choices include selling off the ABC? JOE HOCKEY: No, we’re not. The ABC is not for sale. It doesn’t make a profit.”

No mention at all that Hockey had pledged to cut perceived “waste” from the ABC and SBS.

Nor does the ABC transcript include AM host Tony Eastley’s jocular back- announce; “Well, that’s a relief!”

Ah yes, all so very, very entertaining. There’s certainly one person who will be laughing all the way to the bank about this - and that’s Rupert Murdoch. He and his supporters have been lobbying long and hard to kill off any online competition from Australia’s public broadcasters.

You’ve got to laugh. Don’t you?