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“A vigorous, critical media is an important part of a healthy democracy, and I think the Prime Minister should accept that.” It’s difficult now to believably assign that quote to then opposition leader Tony Abbott in July of 2011, when now, as Prime Minister he publically lambasts the Australian Broadcasting Corporation for “taking every side except Australia’s” and has launched an efficiency review – most feasibly translated into funding cuts – into the network.
Since the 1930’s, the ABC has provided a link between country and urban Australia and both conventional, informative news programs as well as platforms that often challenged social conceptions in light hearted yet brutally truthful ways.
Though Murdoch press has also come under some scrutiny for their alleged bias toward the Liberal Nationals, the issue that the Australian Broadcasting Company is funded with tax payer money was the main point of objection made by Treasurer Joe Hockey.
The Treasurer affirmed that the efficiency review will focus on costs of day to day operational and financial operations, structures and processes applied to delivering the programs, products and services of both the ABC and SBS.
Though the review has been touted as “definitely not” a study of the quality of the national broadcaster’s programs, but purely the efficiency of their delivery to the public, there has been much community backlash as the LNP appears to back pedal on a promise made repeatedly in the lead up to the last Federal Election that ABC was not for sale. On top of this and with the recent controversy over allegations of mistreatment of asylum seekers by the Australian Navy and the Prime Minister seeming unabashed willingness to publically state that our national media coverage should be “more generous” to Australia, it begs the question of just how free our media really will be under the conservative government.
Communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull who often finds himself at odds with his LNP colleagues spoke in support of the ABC’s editorial licence, saying, ”What’s the alternative . . . the editor-in-chief [of the ABC] becomes the prime minister?” Mr Turnbull said. ”Politicians, whether prime ministers or communications ministers, will often be unhappy with the ABC . . . but you can’t tell them what to write.”
This opinion was further supported by Liberal western Sydney MP Craig Laundy, after he posted a spirited defence of free speech on Facebook arguing that those who did not like the ABC’s work could simply “change the channel.”