South-west MP against privatised ABC

WANNON MP Dan Tehan has voiced support for the ABC, arguing against privatisation as the government prepares for a crackdown on the public broadcaster. 

Speaking to The Standard, Mr Tehan said a review into the network’s spending was justified but said the organisation should not be sold off. 

“It’s not the government policy to privatise the ABC and it’s my personal view that the ABC should not be privatised,” Mr Tehan said. 

“This is about efficiency, it’s not about editorial content.” 

The MP was circumspect when asked for a personal view on bias allegations, saying “some programs could be perceived that way ... I think that’s why it’s important the ABC ensures that it does work with its charter so accuracy is upheld”. 

“I am a big supporter of the ABC, being from the country — it provides programs like The Country Hour or broadcasting of local cricket and football. 

“One of the things I’ve found personally concerning is that my offices in Hamilton and Warrnambool have received a lot of calls from people about the balance of some reports from the ABC.” 

Asked specifically what the complaints related to, Mr Tehan said they were prompted by offensive language during New Year’s Eve broadcasts.

Warrnambool-based former ABC radio host Derek Guille said the government could be poised to make cuts as it tests the waters of public opinion. 

Mr Guille, who worked as a presenter between 1987 and 2011, told The Standard the bias claims were groundless but conceded there was fat to trim in the ABC “like any other organisation”.

“To suggest that the ABC is somehow barracking for the opposition or is un-Australian is very frustrating,” Mr Guille said.

Mr Guille said the government was “raising the issue up the flagpole to see what sort of response it gets”.

“I am concerned political ideology will trump the public’s right to know. The ABC is considered a major cultural institution of this country,” he said.  

Radio services in the country would be the first to go if the ABC were privatised, he warned. 

“If it was privatised whoever bought it would look at what parts weren’t making a profit and guess where that would be — regional Australia.” 

s.mccomish@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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