Report from former ABC staffers highlight political interference from Coalition

A report authored by former ABC journalists Quentin Dempster and Fergus Pitt, and published by political activist organisation, GetUp, has highlighted the alleged ongoing attempted interference from the Coalition government in ABC editorial.

The report, also contributed to by other former ABC journalists and staff, alleges the Coalition “has waged and sustained an intentional campaign of political interference against the ABC”, with undermining tactics stretching from financial, to legal, editorial and in the boardroom.

Dempster, a Walkley award winner said that the report reveals that when in power, governments “despise what is at the very heart of the ABC’s value and trustworthiness – it’s independence”.

“This research lays bare the ways this government has attempted to weaken the ABC,” said Dempster. “Some tactics fly under the radar day-to-day, but when put together it can only be seen as a relentless and intentional campaign of political interference.”

The report states that the political interference has a “deep impact” on the ABC’s independence, and ability to provide comprehensive services that communities rely on.

“When you cut through the spin and political point-scoring, there is still no plan to restore the ABC’s funding of the millions that’s been slashed since the Coalition were elected.

The report comes a week after the Morrison government revealed an $87.2 million increase in funding for the ABC over the next three years.

“This report exposes the pernicious build up of pressure across the spectrum, and gives an insight into the threats this poses to the national broadcaster.”

The report was commissioned by GetUp, and written by two former-ABC journalists

GetUp’s election co-director, Larissa Baldwin said: “The ABC is a national treasure that is loved and needed by communities across the country. Yet, as this report details, the Coalition is set on issuing attacks from all angles.”

“When the Coalition has been missing in action during times of crisis, the ABC has stepped up and kept communities informed with lifesaving information and resources.

“Through bushfires, floods and this pandemic, it is clear as we enter more times of uncertainty that we’re going to need the ABC.

“The relentless attacks, harassment and pressure must end. It is time that people in leadership understand the ABC is more valuable than ever, and it is essential that it is protected.”

The ABC was approached for comment regarding the report, however had not responded at the time of publishing.

The full report is available to read here. 

In December, the ABC added over 50 additional journalist roles in regional locations as a result of deals struck with Meta (formerly Facebook Inc) and Google.

Following the passage of the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code in February, which included the public broadcasters, the ABC entered into commercial negotiations with the digital platforms.



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