Brown Study

Brown study

15 February 2014

9:00 AM

15 February 2014

9:00 AM

There are some loose ends about the ABC controversy that should be tidied up. First, it is interesting that the ABC’s own case was put by the managing director and not by the board, which has remained strangely silent. The entire board is responsible for the organisation, but from the beginning of the recent controversy it has been missing in action. We hold criticism of a company’s performance to its board, with calls to sack them, pass three-strike motions to reject their salary packages, prosecute them for serious offences and generally put a bomb under them when they are clearly not up to the job or not presenting themselves to the market as they should. In the case of the ABC, it also happens to be the law that the board is responsible. But as with other aspects of the ABC, its board seems to be above the usual disciplines imposed on directors. The ABC has been facing a serious crisis of confidence for weeks, but the board has apparently no case to put by way of defence. Leaving it all to the MD to make his singularly unpersuasive defence, including changing his story from ‘not guilty’ to ‘half-guilty’, has done nothing to encourage confidence in the organisation as a whole.

Second, I thought it was unwise for the government to seek comfort from the fact that Media Watch cast doubt on the virginal purity of the ABC’s case. It was said, in effect, that if even Media Watch criticised the ABC, then the ABC must obviously be wrong. The trap in that strategy is that next time, and there will be lots of next times, when Media Watch says that an ABC programme is above reproach and that it is the government itself that is wrong, you have to give the same credence to the verdict of Media Watch; having set it up as a paragon of good judgement, how can you reject its conclusions when they become inconvenient or embarrassing? The government should defend itself on the merits of the argument and not rely on the ABC’s self-appointed judge and jury for support. In any event, there is something bizarre and, like the managing director’s defence, very unpersuasive in relying on evidence from within the ABC when it is the ABC itself that is under criticism.


Third, I made the point last week that there are a lot of good programmes on the ABC and that the real problem for the organisation is that it allows them to be sullied by the size and content of its dominant Green Left axe-grinding which, sooner or later, will come along and flatten any opposing views. There was a good illustration of this the other day on the science show, Ockham’s Razor, where a long presentation was made by Terry Krieg, a retired secondary school teacher of geography and geology. He made out a case, based on facts, for uranium mining and why Australia should embrace nuclear energy, a source of power, he argued, that is economical and safe. We should be able to accept a presentation like Mr  Krieg’s as one of a thousand schools of thought contending for our attention; but we know this will not be so. It is official ABC policy to oppose uranium mining and nuclear energy and, sadly, the organisation will soon revert to type, there will be no balancing of views on this contentious subject and the preponderance of opinion allowed to be aired will be contrary to Mr Krieg’s token offering. If he goes on Q&A, he will be lucky if he is not lynched and he will certainly be abused and ridiculed like others who have dared to challenge the official line.

Finally, I suggested that the saddest part of the ABC controversy was that after going through a few ritualistic protests and calls for inquiries, nothing of any substance would be done about it. That seems to be happening already, which makes it doubly sad. Have you noticed that the heat has gone out of the issue? The government’s position is apparently that we have to respect the independence of the ABC, which I had not thought was ever in dispute. The whole point of the argument was that there is no independence when one side seizes control of the entire agenda and opinions — not news or entertainment — are allowed to be pushed by a narrow band of commentators and acolytes promoting a substantially Green Left agenda at our expense, usually denying opposing views an opportunity to be expressed. Apparently this will be allowed to continue.

On other issues, we are certainly at the crossroads of where this country is going, with the closing of factories now raising the question: where will the new jobs come from? Mr Abbott and his team are right, for the jobs will come from new investment by new businesses. But they will come from that source only if there is an incentive to start a business or expand one and that means it must be made more worthwhile and rewarding to do so than is the case at the present. It is a distressing time for many workers facing retrenchment and for their families. But it is a challenging time to show the real strength of free enterprise, lower taxation and fewer government restrictions and controls.

It is also the best of times to show what a sad and pathetic response the Labor party is offering with its big government spending attitude and how this can lead to nothing but more company failures and more heartache.

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