Leading article Australia

Will Morrison fight?

15 February 2020

9:00 AM

15 February 2020

9:00 AM

To ‘culturally appropriate’ General George S. Patton: No bastard ever won a war by refusing to fight the battle. Slowly, it is dawning on the brains within the Morrison government that the so-called ‘culture wars’ are not simply some abstract academic obsession of the media and political classes but rather go to the very heart of what it means to live in a free society. Increasingly, culture wars are a proxy for a far more insidious battle: the struggle by the far Left to undermine and ultimately overturn the traditional and respected institutions that have served our society so well.

Take the ABC. The simple, common-sense proposition that Australians bought into many years ago was that it was worth spending their hard-earned taxes to subsidise a national broadcaster in order to allow a media and cultural platform that not only reflected and celebrated mainstream Aussie values but enhanced them. At no point back then was it envisaged that the ABC would become the billion-dollar-a-year plaything of a small, far-left niche group of sneering elitists. Yet this is precisely what has occurred. Rather than celebrating the best of what mainstream Australia has to offer, the ABC now wallows in a cesspool of angry, self-loathing denunciation of the popularly-elected government of the day and a nasty, sanctimonious mean-spiritedness towards the traditional and/or conservative values of the voters who put them in power. Taxpayers recently paid for an episode of Q&A that saw the audience jeering at popular conservative Senator Jim Molan for simply questioning whether man-made global warming was responsible for the recent bushfires. Only days before the December bushfires, Q&A happily aired a segment in which the audience and host applauded an indigenous activist urging Australians to ‘burn stuff’ in protest at the colonial settlement of this nation.

With all the chutzpah of some spoilt teenage brat, the Chair of the ABC, Ita Buttrose, has reportedly gone cap in hand to the same prime minister her organisation so frantically seeks to humiliate, intimidate and destroy asking for money – to help them finish off the job, perhaps?

Full marks, then, to Senator James McGrath, never one to shy away from picking up a cultural bludgeon or two himself. Speaking in the Senate this week he said: Too many people I know no longer see the ABC as the national broadcaster. They see it as the un-Australian broadcaster… the ABC has already changed its focus from journalism to lobbying. It’s a joke, and no one is laughing.

He is correct. Even the ABC’s supposed comedians are snide, grubby, uncouth political activists guilty of the highest crime a comic can be accused of: being unfunny. It is no longer acceptable that taxpayers support the outlandish wages and costs of an organisation that not only does not represent their best interests, but worse, actively despises their values and lifestyle choices.

The Morrison government should use this point in time – no election for a couple of years, the surplus clearly under threat, the public fed up with seeing their money frittered away on the Canberra/bureaucratic gravy train – to do what is long overdue and start to dismantle and privatise the ABC.

In Britain, Boris Johnson is embarking on a similar campaign, planning to turn the BBC into a subscription service; although it is easier for the Brits to do this because of the existing and long-standing ‘BBC licence’ arrangements.

Aware of this, Senator McGrath offered up some simple first steps: The ABC’s headquarters in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne are valued at around half a billion dollars. It’s half a billion dollars for three offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. They account for 81 per cent of the entire ABC property portfolio. Sell them off. Move the ABC to the suburbs or the regions.

Senator McGrath’s suggestions are worth serious consideration. If the ABC genuinely desires to ‘get in touch with mainstream Australia’ it would welcome dispersing itself out into the ‘real’ world beyond the ‘latte-belt’.

And it would show the Coalition finally understands the importance of winning the culture wars.

Last shout

Time is fast running out for all you would-be essayists dreaming of winning dinner with John Howard and Michael Thawley, being published in this magazine and a lazy $5,000 to boot – in the one-and-only Spectator Australia Thawley Essay Prize.

Could it be your turn? There’s still a couple of weeks left. The theme this year is: ‘…or forever hold your peace.’ Details at spectator.com.au/thawleyprize

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