In the lead up to the 2013 federal election, amid a fierce political debate between the major parties over the roll out of the National Broadband Network, an ABC editor-journalist was directed by his boss to find any story he could that was critical of the Labor Party’s NBN Plan in order to provide “insurance” against attacks on the ABC by the Coalition.
The explosive revelations are contained in a secretly-made recording of a meeting between Nick Ross, the ABC’s former Games and Technology Editor, and Bruce Belsham, the Head of ABC’s Current Affairs division.
I stand by it now. With Nick Ross's new evidence, there must be a proper enquiry into the ABC.
The ABC did very well out of the Rudd/Gillard Governments - as a result you'd hope it was extra careful about bias.
SATURDAY, 30 NOVEMBER 2013
The ABC tells us it was pleased with the extra financial support that the Rudd and Gillard governments gifted to it. On the other hand, the ABC had contingency plans to deal with widely expected funding cuts should the coalition win government.
The ABC should have been aware of the potential conflict of interest it could be accused of in any perceived reporting that favoured Labor. Where actual complaints of bias were made to the ABC you'd hope the ABC would act swiftly to correct the perception. And where newsworthy events that reflected poorly on Labor happened,you'd hope the ABC would be assiduous in covering them.
In the context of an extra $190M in ABC funding that the Gillard Government decided on in June this year - smack bang in the middle of the search warrant reports in other media - the absence of any reporting at all on the issue takes on potentially sinister overtones.
ABC Managing Director Mark Scott was equipped with 102 pages of "priority briefing notes" prepared by ABC staffers when he fronted the October 2012 Senate Estimates hearings.
His briefing notes were released under FOI in May this year.
Page One of 102 pages recorded how well the ABC had done out of the Rudd years.
The ABC wanted an extra TV network - ABC3 - and it got its way with $67M.
The ABC wanted more money for its local drama producing mates - they're very expensive if you want to see them happy and smiling. $70 million extra for that.
$15.3 was found for ABC Open - along with an extra $13.6 for some capital spending. All in all the ABC was very happy.
In 2013 under Ms Gillard the ABC was hit with the lucky stick again! Here's the official statement reporting that the Gillard goverment found an extra $190M for its ABC - this was first published by then Minister Steven Conroy's office in June 2013 - right in the middle of the ABC's non-reporting of the Victoria Police search warrant proceedings.
The ABC is primarily financed by the federal government through triennial funding arrangements. In the 2013-14 Budget, the government is providing the ABC with an additional $30 million over three years to meet the growing demand for its digital services. The ABC will also receive $69.4 million over four years from 2012-13 to expand its news and current affairs services. In addition, the government will provide a loan of $90 million over three years to the ABC to assist with the construction of a purpose-built ABC facility at Southbank, Melbourne.
In 2013-14, government funding to the ABC will total $1.05 billion.
You can add the Australia Network contract worth $233M over the next decade - gifted to the ABC in perpetuity after Julia Gillard's intervention.
Mark Scott and the team were thrilled with Labor. How about the coalition, what impact did the ABC plan for - what did the ABC itself think of the prospect of having the coalition in charge.
Mark Scott carried these public statements from his Chairman Justice Jim Spiegelman in his pack of Senate Estimates papers.
So - Labor financially good for the ABC. The Coalition would probably mean cuts to its funding.
Pretty strong motivation to look after their 190M dollar girl.
Now the ABC has another PM in the Rudd/Gillard mould
Any signs the ABC's editorial stance might have favoured Chairman Mal over ABBOTT ABBOTT ABBOTT?
Perish the thought. Mark Scott knows the difference between right and wrong Prime Minister.
Remember, Malcolm wouldn't lead a Communications Ministry that wasn’tas committed to Malcolm as Malcolm is.