Malcolm Turnbull Backs ABC Amid PM Tony Abbott's Allegations
By Reissa Su | January 30, 2014 5:33 PM EST
Australian Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull expressed his support for ABC following the attack by Prime Minister Tony Abbott on the national broadcaster. Mr Abbott blasted ABC by saying the network "instinctively takes everyone's side but Australia's."
Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott (L) walks beside Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa after taking the official photograph during the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), in Colombo November 15, 2013. (REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte)
Mr Turnbull said ABC is not accountable to politicians but to its board of directors. The alternative scenario would be the editor-in-chief becoming the prime minister. Mr Turnbull said politicians may often dislike what ABC releases to the public but no one can tell ABC what to write. He said criticism is always part of a democracy.
Speaking on Sydney radio, Mr Abbott remarked that Australians want to see "some basic affection for the home team." According to Mr Turnbull, ABC has to observe editorial fairness and follow the rules than its competitors in media. He reminded everyone that if it weren't for ABC and Fairfax, Australia will not be aware of the latest union corruption.
Former ABC managing director David Hill reacted to Mr Abbott's remarks against ABC and its alleged lack of sympathy for the "home team." Mr Hill called it absurd since it was the suggestion that a prime minister would be willing to deny Australians the truth. He said it was also the first time that a prime minister has insinuated that ABC keep information from the public.
Labour communications spokesman Jason Clare revealed Mr Abbott was considering a cut on ABC's $1 billion annual fund. When asked to comment on the issue, ABC managing director Mark Scott had refused to talk about it.
It was Mr Scott who spoke to Mr Turnbull about coverage of asylum seeker claims in which they were burned and abused by navy personnel. The communications minister remarked that the criticism was justified but he though the allegations had "bordered on inconceivable."
Mr Hill, who managed ABC from 1986 to 1995, dismissed the prime minister's view that ABC should have been more patriotic when it teamed up with the Guardian to leak information about Australia's surveillance on Indonesia.
Mr Abbott said if there is credible evidence supporting an issue, ABC and other media organisations were entitled to report it. However, he stated that they should not be "critical" of their own country. The prime minister said it would have been better if ABC had given the Australian navy the benefit of the doubt.
Mr Abbott went straight to the point when he told the radio show that he would like ABC to become a "straight news gathering and news reporting organisation."
Australia's policies on asylum seekers, sexual orientation, indigenous affairs, and disability were previously scrutinized by New York-based watchdog Human Rights Watch and found them wanting. The group gave a scathing review of Prime Minister Tony Abbott's Coalition government and the previous Labour government.
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