Hands off the ABC
*69 Senator Ludlam: To move-That the Senate-
(a) notes: No. 9-11 December 2013 11
(i) the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) is accountable to its charter, its board and the people of Australia,
(ii) editors and journalists, not politicians, should make editorial decisions in a democracy that values a free press,
(iii) 80 per cent of Australians surveyed believe the ABC is balanced and even-handed when reporting news and current affairs, and
(iv) the ABC and the Special Broadcasting Service are vital public news, information, education and entertainment services for the benefit of citizens and audiences rather than advertisers and shareholders;
(i) complaints about the ABC unfairly competing with commercial media as vindictive and misconceived, and
(ii) government interference in the editorial decisions made by the ABC; and
(c) calls on all parties to commit to maintaining the ABC as a well-funded public broadcaster with an independent board free from political interference.
Senator LUDLAM (Western Australia) (16:04): I seek leave to make a short statement.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.
Senator LUDLAM: I cannot let a statement like that go past. It is entirely provocative to see the kind of behaviour that has been engaged in by coalition pledge backbenchers all the way through to the communications minister and the Prime Minister attempting to bully, intimidate, judge and second-guess the national broadcaster. In February and March when a number of relatively modest media reform proposals came before this chamber by the Labor Party, some of which were supported by the Greens, the people who shrieked the most, who were the most strident about independence and a free press are now the ones who are trying to gag the ABC. How inappropriate for the Prime Minister and the communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull, to be carpeting ABC director Mark Scott and second-guessing editorial decisions. It is absolutely inappropriate. I cannot believe coalition members would be voting against a motion that does nothing more or less than defend the editorial independence and the funding basis of our treasured national broadcaster. (Time expired)
Question agreed to.