Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

The demise of Australia’s public broadcaster into 'their scary ABC'

By Charles Essery - posted Wednesday, 20 May 2020

A month ago, I was driven to critique the biased, disruptive, divisive and deliberately confusing reporting (mostly opinion-based) of "their ABC" on the Covid-19 crisis (OLO,14th April). To restate the basic example, 'their ABC' established itself as the emergency self-appointed alternative government from day one.

"Highlights include:

  • Objecting to the PM's Christmas Island strategy including accusing the Australian Government of racism and discrimination against Chinese nationals.
  • Dr 'Stormin' Norman Swan becoming their alternative chief medical officer, issuing contradictory advice to the official Australian Government Chief Medical Officer who has displayed true professionalism and stability.
  • 'their ABC' has daily issued challenges to the Government advice/actions. Eg their demands for school closures have been classic campaigning against the incompetent "Scotty from Marketing".
  • Having caused this alternative view confusion, 'their ABC' then blamed the Government for its confusing mixed message that they had generated themselves!"
  • When the pandemic has passed, and the family, society, economy and government return to a post-COVID normality, 'their ABC' must become "our ABC"."

Since then, "their ABC" has just continued merrily on its way, supposedly feeding its ever-decreasing (and less representative) audience of listeners/viewers for "their ABC" with alternative and contradictory advice. I now feel justified in renaming the organisation as "their scary ABC".

"Their scary ABC" has upped its campaign of aggressive attacks on not only the Morrison government's approach and actions, but also on those of the 'Donald Trump USA', 'Boris Johnston UK', and others such as the Israeli and Indian governments. In contrast, it issues positive reports on China and the World Health Organisation, while ignoring the failings of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Italy, Spain, S America, Africa etc. This seems to be highly partisan reporting, in my humble opinion. Interestingly they have been supportive of NSW, Victorian and Queensland Premiers whom they promote, and independent and rebellious actions contrary to the embryonic experimental "National Cabinet" (e.g. schools-isolation, work-lockdown, distancing-rules, work recommencement and even the support of Queensland government's bid to own Virgin!).

"Their scary ABC" has continued to promote contradiction and confusion through its "news reporting" promoting every alternative piece of advice about anti-vaxers, Chinese racism, 'people of colour' discrimination and the dangers of those unhealthiest of workplaces as they see them, namely schools. Irrespective of the consensus of government expert advisors, "their scary ABC" brings out alternative experts (keen to get their 'look-at-me-moments' to combat their colleagues who are members of official government expert bodies).While I have no problem with alternative views, in the midst of a global health and economic crisis, hourly news broadcasts is not the time or place for such discussions. Such alternative opinions should be directed to opinion programs or documentaries which are the appropriate venues for 'intellectual' debate. Ironically, "their scary ABC" is very keen to promote the "97% consensus" myth in its coverage of climate change. Using that well entrenched approach, they indeed should be introducing their alternative experts and deniers as luddites and sceptics!..... but then consistency is not a word that sits well with "their scary ABC".

Most recently, the ABC has been running tales of despair from those unwise travellers who remained steadfast in their overseas travels to USA, S. America and even the Antarctic, despite official government warnings. And when these same self-centred, globe-trotting travellers demanded to be saved and to be flown back after the international travel bans were in place, the ABC attacked the "insensitive" Morrison government and that nasty evil Minister Dutton for not coming to their aid. When these global travellers were "imprisoned" in their 5 star accommodation in Sydney's best hotels, their complaints and whines were promoted by "their friendly ABC". Meanwhile, homeless people were ignored, as were people dying in hospitals and homes. But then that is "their scary ABC" perspective on the world, namely one focused on their friends (particularly the impoverished Arts communities), and anyone who opposes the government (particularly if it is conservative like Morrison, Trump or Johnston!). It also promotes the rebellious Labor governments led by Andrews and Palaszczuk and the 'wet' liberal and factionally weak Berejiklian led NSW government.

We are all expecting, hoping and even praying that all our national government learns from the experience of this quite unique health/economic/political COVID-19 driven crisis. There is the potential to reset global relationships and redress the imbalances that have been allowed to develop over the last three decades in the name of capitalism, globalism, free-migration and free-trade. It won't be a fresh canvas, and the vested interest will most likely prevail. However, in the one case of "their scary ABC" perhaps there is one small hope that this issue can be discussed (not internally reviewed by "mates/friends of the ABC"), analysed and then reformed to return "OUR ABC" to the Australian public once again. Just something to consider.

I now watch SBS (and Sky and international channels) more these days than the ABC because it aims to operate by its charter, to cover a wide range of communities and cultures, while maintaining balance and fairness. As such, it tends to report the news and isolates its opinions/discussions in programs like "Insights".


Much as the separation of powers for politics/bureaucracy has been lost in Australia, "their scary ABC" has lost its capacity to separate reporting the news from creating the news by opinions and aggressive 'gotcha' interrogations. Consider a scenario where the Government commissions the SBS to become the project client for our $1billion per annum investment and let "their scary ABC" bid for work as service providers via proposals for news reporting, opinion/documentary, entertainment, comedy and drama. That way KPIs can be set, performance measured and future funding judged on the "OUR ABC" ability to deliver broadcasting product to all Australians, and not its current elitist, hubristic and certainly not representative audience. If "their ABC" were insulted that the SBS upstart takes the client role, then a small professional Independent Board/Authority could be established to oversee this process for both the ABC and SBS… and even allow third party production groups like the many who the ABC commission to do their own work) to bid/ pitch products/services for the Australian public.

When it comes down to it…its up to you…. the citizens, voters and funders of "their ABC". I am just offering my opinion.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

24 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Charles Essery is an independent water consultant, who has been an Australia resident since 1990.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Charles Essery

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Photo of Charles Essery
Article Tools
Comment 24 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy