Senate debates

Thursday, 10 December 2020


Australian Broadcasting Corporation; Order for the Production of Documents

8:03 pm

Photo of James McGrathJames McGrath (Queensland, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate take note of the document.

A report in relation to the ABC's coverage of the 2019 election was provided through an order for the production of documents. I won't take too long, because I know we all want to get home. I'd like to say I'm very disappointed that the ABC, who believe in the right to know, apply that test to everyone except themselves. I wrote to the ABC asking for a copy of this review. They did not supply it. My office lodged an FOI in relation to this review, and they did not supply it. The ABC only supplied this review, not because I demanded it, but because yesterday the Senate passed a motion for the order of the production of documents in relation to this review. This review has now been supplied through what can only be described as a lot of teeth-grinding by senior ABC executives, which is why it is so disappointing that the ABC—who did not want this election review to be released—is already out briefing about this election review within mere seconds of the document being tabled in this chamber by the minister. On the ABC website they had a banner claiming that the ABC review into the 2019 election found that it was impartial. Craig McMurtrie, their director of news, is already on Radio National talking about this election review. The ABC are now out happily briefing about a document they wanted kept secret—a document that this billion-dollar organisation, funded by the taxpayers of Australia, did not want taxpayers to see.

I say to the ABC: you exist because you are funded by the taxpayers of Australia. You are our national broadcaster. I would suggest that you start behaving like a national broadcaster, not like some little clique. You should listen to the people of Australia. Perhaps it would be good to listen to and read some of the observations in that review about the need for diversity of voices within the ABC, instead of it being such a left-wing talking shop. I have a plan for the ABC to be saved from itself—shift its headquarters out of the inner city areas, open up the recruitment process and put ads on the ABC. That way, we will truly see a national broadcasting corporation rather than this sadly depleted organisation that believes it is in its own interest not to release these reviews when it is actually in the public interest to release these reviews. The taxpayers of Australia have a right to know. Shame on the ABC for only releasing this document through an order of the Senate, but congratulations to the Senate for ordering it. Merry Christmas, everybody. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.