Senate debates

Thursday, 14 November 2013


Australian Broadcasting Corporation

5:55 pm

Photo of Ian MacdonaldIan Macdonald (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

In resuming debate on the motion to take note of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's report for 2012-13, I point out that we are coming up to estimates again and I am curious to see just how the interaction between Mr Mark Scott and the estimates committee members continues. Certainly over the last several years there has always been an entertaining exchange between senators, particularly from my side of the political fence, and the ABC. But I only say that by way of introduction to a comment that is increasingly said to me, and that comment is: 'When are we going to privatise the ABC?'

I am not one of these political conspiracy theorists but, quite clearly, the ABC in its head office configuration—I will make that distinction and come back to it later—its news broadcasts and its television broadcasts are no longer in the way of dissemination of fact, they very much are the case of the opinions of the particular announcer or particular presenter which are distributed to the public at large. As I say, I am not a conspiracy theorist, but you only have to look at any current affairs program to see it has a left-wing bias. I know Mr Scott will always deny it and he valiantly defends his people. He is very, very good at that and I congratulate him for doing it. But I think there was a survey taken before the election, and not every employee of the ABC completed the survey, I acknowledge, and I do not have the exact figures, but it was something like 60 per cent of those who answered the survey indicated they were going to vote green at the next election and another 20 or 30 per cent were going to vote Labor at the next election. Mr Acting Deputy President, you have only got to look at any of their current affairs programs and it is always the green type agenda that comes up or the ultra-left-wing social agenda.

Same-sex marriage is an important issue, I acknowledge that, but you do not have to have it on every news program for the last 12 months. The ABC seems fixated on it. I have to say the other news disseminators do not seem to be quite so fixated on it. There are a lot of lovely people in the ABC and I am sure they are very good at their work—I was going to say very professional, but if you are professional you do not start giving over your views. I often feel jealous of them—as a politician, I only wish sometimes that I could have that sort of opportunity of spreading my views to the voting public. I do not have that opportunity, but these people have that opportunity.

Photo of Brett MasonBrett Mason (Queensland, Liberal Party, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

You're on broadcast now!

Photo of Ian MacdonaldIan Macdonald (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I am on broadcast now, but I would like to be there on prime time, at the seven o'clock news, Senator Mason

Seriously, a lot of people are starting to say: should we privatise it? Why does the taxpayer have to fund this? It is not as if the ABC is now a balanced disseminator of news.

As I always do, I have almost run out of time. But I do want to make a distinction. I come from regional Australia and I have a lot to do with regional ABC radio. And as I always say, I am sure that a lot of the people in the regional offices do not agree with me politically—and they probably do not vote for me—but I have always found them to be very, very balanced. They will always give everybody a run and they will not editorialise when the interviews are over. So I do have a great regard for the work that the rural ABC radio in particular does. They are a great public service in rural and regional Australia. But I am sorry that I cannot say the same for the capital city news disseminators. I seek leave to continue my remarks.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.