Opinion Pieces

Lucky the ABC finally came to its senses

Lucky the ABC finally came to its senses

Daily Telegraph 24 March 2021

I have occasionally been critical of the ABC but I must give credit where it’s due and acknowledge the national broadcaster for kicking a good goal.
By its own admission the ABC “values its editorial independence from commercial, personal, political and other forms of external influence”. But it was in bed with The New Daily, created and paid for by the superannuation funds to spout their propaganda.

The New Daily is a superannuation sinkhole where $12 million of workers’ savings have disappeared. It is a loss-making business which calls into question the legal basis of the entity given super funds have a fiduciary responsibility.

It was a wholly inappropriate alliance which is now dead.

The contract with The New Daily was cancelled after the deal was heavily scrutinised through this important Parliamentary oversight process. The death of the ABC/Big Super deal is good news for the ABC and workers’ super.
The ABC’s integrity and impartiality will be bolstered as a result. The ABC’s governing legislation should never have been allowed to enter into a contract with lobbyists parading propaganda as a news business.

The New Daily was set up to have a “bias” in that it would favourably report superannuation stories. In other words, it is a propaganda outfit for the $3 trillion super behemoth.
I still can’t understand why anyone at the ABC thought it was a good idea to get into business with super lobbyists for just $70,000 when the taxpayer funds the
broadcaster to the tune of $1 billion a year. Had it not been terminated by the ABC, I seriously considered introducing a private Senators’ Bill to amend the ABC Act to prohibit the ABC doing business with lobbyists.

Thankfully, the Senate passed a motion in November 2020 which helped bring about this outcome.

I have been seeking to understand this deal during Senate Estimates hearings. I wanted to know whether the ABC’s editorial independence, balance and fairness was compromised by its commercial arrangement with The New Daily.
The ABC’s editorial policies make it very clear that editorial decisions must not be influenced by political, sectional, commercial or personal interests to protect the ABC’s independence and integrity.

Despite the ABC being banned from advertising it was taking money from this highly dubious outlet which uses workers’ super to attack critics.

Clearly, I was worried that The New Daily deal may have impacted the ABC’s reporting on superannuation.

I can only hope the ABC has a long memory and avoids getting into business with toxic lobbyists.

We still need to fix super, to make it work harder for workers, but at least this howling conflict of interest has been removed.

Andrew Bragg is a Liberal Senator for NSW

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