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The ABC needs to know its place and time

By Gary Johns - posted Wednesday, 10 May 2017

There are many leading institutions in Australia - businesses and universities - but there is an argument that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation should not be among them. The ABC should be a lagging institution, reflecting present and past.

The ABC should conserve, rather than disrupt. Instead, the ABC has moved way out ahead, trying to be the future, when people crave certainty and reliability in institutions.

The ABC's great mistake is that it paints a particular future. Take two long-running examples: its promotion of an idealised Islam in pursuit of multiculturalism, and its obsession with renewables as a response to climate change.


As esteemed colleague Angela Shanahan pointed out, over Easter ABC radio barely featured Christian music to celebrate the remembrance of Christ's death. Yes, I am aware that Christ ranks only No 3 in Islam, but there was a time when you might get a fight over that.

As for the ABC's Yassmin Abdel-Magied's offensive Anzac Day tweet, and her eulogy to Islam­ic feminism, Ayaan Hirsi Ali was right to regard her as a "hypocrite", dripping phony indignation.

Think of the context of the ABC promotion of pretty Islam. Australia is a less religious country than was once the case. The number of people reporting no religion in Australia has increased during the past century, from one in 250 people to one in five.

The rate of people reporting Christian religions is 60 per cent, down from 95 per cent at the beginning of the 20th century. Into this mix we add Islam, with an illiberal history and dubious devotees. Australians are making massive adjustments to a new world, with less certainty than previously, so why pour fuel on the fire?

Perhaps ABC really stands for Allah Before Christ.

Mind you, you can see why Christianity is in decline when some of its leaders worship Gaia instead of God. The ABC Religion and Ethics website recently ran with a big headline, "Government support for Adani's giant coal mine is scientifically and morally unjustifiable". Stephen Pickard, a professor at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture at Charles Sturt University, and Thea Ormerod, president of the Australian Reli­gious Response to Climate Change, were in there chanting to Gaia.


Then came Conor Duffy's report on 7.30 that featured a young, curly-haired "boy of colour", Levi Draheim, gambolling on an Oregon beach. Poor young Levi "worries President Trump's climate policies will see his local beach washed away by the time he's grown up". Really? You didn't just put those words in his mouth, did you, Conor?

After all, he is only nine years old. Breathlessly, we were informed that Levi "is taking the President to court, along with 20 other young people". I have news for you, Conor and Levi: that court case, which began in the middle of last year, is pure theatre. Every Democrat state attorney-general has played that climate change trick, suing Big Oil or the feds in the lead-up to an election. It is bizarre that children in the US are suing government officials. If only it were so easy. Sue a government and all will be well. Meanwhile, children in less developed countries face a multitude of sources of harm, only one of which is the risk from climate change.

But fear not, the ABC has the answer. On RN's Sunday Extra last week, the announcer introduced a guest, a geographer spruiking "full decarbonisation of our economy is needed by 2050 to avoid the worst of climate change". Do you think that it may have some conse­quences, pal, such as poverty?

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This article was first published in The Australian.

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About the Author

Gary Johns is a former federal member of Parliament and served as a minister in the Keating Government. Since December 2017 he has been the commissioner of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.

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