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It’s our ABC, so the Liberals should not sell it off

“It is tremendously important that we should have those things that we regard as almost the special responsibility of a government station – accurate reporting, objective interpretation and comment, music, drama of the highest quality, a general presentation which, in a broad sense, in a human sense, represents a contribution to the educational standards of the country, and will, I believe, strive more and more, year by year to achieve that ideal. This, after all, is the great object of a national television station.”

This quote has all the hallmarks of coming from a politically correct Lefty elitist. In fact, this is Liberal Prime Minister Robert Menzies speaking in 1962, highlighting the role of the public-owned broadcaster in Australian society.

Today’s political disciples of Menzies have a view that is the polar opposite and are increasingly vocalising their contempt for the ABC.

At its recent meeting in Sydney, the Liberal Party Council voted in favour of privatising the ABC. Proponents of selling sited the cost to the government of funding the broadcaster and its perceived left-wing bias as the reason for privatisation.

Apparently, the sale would “enhance, not diminish the Australian media landscape”, according to the Vice President of the Young Liberals, telling the meeting “we could sell it to a media mogul, a media organisation, [or] the government could sell it on the stock market”.

While this was a non-binding vote, Federal Ministers had to go into damage control mode the next day and denied rumours of a privatisation policy.

Why didn’t they have the intestinal fortitude to admit selling the ABC is a default Liberal policy? They are the party of small government after all. It would be more honest than the current PR scramble.

Have the free marketeers of the Liberal Party really thought it through? I think not. The privatisation of the ABC would mean splitting the shrinking advertising revenue shared between the commercial channels.

A proposed purchase of the ABC by an existing media company operating in Australia could fall foul of media completion/ownership laws, thus rendering the ABC unsalable to anyone but a foreign media giant.

From my pro-ABC stand point, how could such a sale enhance the Australian Media landscape? Privatisation would drag the ABC down to the level of the commercial stations – the exact opposite of contributing to the improvement the educational standards of the country as championed by Menzies.

Greg Smart

By his own admission, Greg Smart was born 40 years old and is in training to be a cranky old man. He spends his time avoiding commercial television and bad coffee.