Another day, another attack on the ABC from the Right of Australian politics.  Seems to be becoming the norm lately, doesn’t it?  ‘Ah well’, you say, ‘it’s just a bunch of frothers hyperventilating again.  We’ll go on ignoring it as we’ve always done, and things will stay the same.’

Not necessarily though.  While indeed the attack was a consistent with the theme we’ve had in recent months, this attack came right from the top.  Now even the Prime Minister of Australia is engaging in the fringe-dweller culture wars normally reserved for the Cory Bernardis, Ian MacDonalds and Kevin Andrews of this world.

Yes, the PM has criticised the ABC for, seemingly, casting a critical view of the Australian Government.  I mean, God forbid we have an independent news organisation daring to uphold its charter and hold a democratically-elected government to account.

Hatred of the ABC from the political Right is no new phenomenon.  To the economic ‘dries’, its existence is seen as invading the space and performing the role that an equivalent private organisation could perform.  To the rabid right-wingers (or the Conservative Revolutionists, to use a Bernardi term), its editorial line is seen as left-leaning, not providing enough balance (read bias to the right) on pet issues for social conservatives like climate change, as well as being overly critical of the performance of conservative politicians and governments.

(Mind you, these same politicians don’t seem to complain too much when the ABC goes around breaking stories that discredit their ideological enemies.)

So generally, to have members of the Liberal and National Parties, i.e. those on the Right, come out against the ABC in many forms is nothing short of expected.  However, this type of behaviour, from the PM no less, demeans the office of the Prime Minister, and portrays Tony Abbott as both a whinger about media bias, as well as someone prepared to entertain the ramblings of the fringe even to his right.  Both are rather unflattering and potentially dangerous paths to be treading.  Mr Abbott’s whinge sounds very familiar to the ‘poor me’ cries from the Gillard Government and the Greens about unfavourable coverage in News Limited papers during the last term of parliament, which only sought to make the government look like it was trying to blame someone else for its poor fortunes, as well as putting offside the largest newspaper organisation in the country.

It also raises the very serious prospect of political intervention in the operation of the ABC.  The PM’s comments appear to be a political rebuke for the editorial line of the ABC and the stories it chooses to cover.  They appear to suggest the PM is advocating that the ABC heed his direction (given while in the company of one of the most right-wing radio hosts in this country in Ray Hadley) and adjust its editorial tone to suit the Australian Government’s (the Liberal and National Government’s) agenda.

I value the ABC very greatly, but if EVER the ABC were to buckle to any pressure from political organisation either in or outside government, it’s very purpose would cease to exist.  There is only a purpose in maintaining a publicly-funded broadcaster if it maintains complete editorial independence, and is never influenced by government or opposition opinion.  If the ABC were to in any way heed the calls of the Prime Minister on this or any other occasion regarding its editorial standpoint, it would be reduced to a laughable and completely insignificant propaganda machine such as the Korean Central News Agency of North Korea.

I guess the purpose of this rant (other than to vent a bit of fury) is to serve as a warning to all of the dangers of politics interfering with, or worse yet, potentially influencing our national broadcaster.  The government will inevitably find itself with the power to limit the scope or power of the ABC, and it probably will as a measure of spite undertake an element of ‘wing-clipping’.  However, for the sake of the integrity of the entire organisation and the millions of people it serves, the government must never be willing or able to influence its editorial practices.  Even I, as a great fan of the ABC and its services, would rather see the entire corporation abolished than for one minute see its editorial practices influenced by the politics of the day.

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