Speaking of media independence, how does Aunty fare?
There’s been a heavy focus in the past week on the independence or otherwise of the Australian media — although the ABC has missed out on its share of scrutiny amid the carnage at Fairfax and News (bar a few swipes from The Australian). So, just how political are the journalists at Aunty? Crikey decided to do a little digging on the subject. The results might surprise you …
It’s long been perceived wisdom in some quarters that the ABC is a hotbed of pro-Labor sentiment and a training school for ALP candidates like Maxine McKew. Last Wednesday, Paul Kelly wrote for The Australian: “Australia can no longer afford a heavily taxpayer-funded ABC locked into a fashionable ‘writers festival’ political culture that caters to a dedicated ‘true believer’ minority.”
This certainly isn’t the first time that The Australian has accused the ABC of left-wing groupthink — but it does come soon after former ABC journalist Sarah Henderson won preselection for the federal Victorian seat of Corangamite. ABC managing director Mark Scott rebuts the accusations, saying they were a little ironic coming from The Oz.
In an attempt to see past the political mud-throwing, Crikey hunted for ex-ABC people who went on to work for Labor or the Coalition — and we’ve found the spread is pretty even. As of Tuesday morning, we’ve found 15 ex-ABC people who went on to the Labor politicians (or candidates), while 13 went to the Coalition camp.
Here’s the list — it’s a work in progress, and we’re counting on Crikey readers to delve into their memories and add more names. Send your tips and we’ll update the list.
ABC to Labor:
Maxine McKew, began her career as a cadet on This Day Tonight at the ABC’s Brisbane office in 1975. She then worked on the ABC’s flagship current affairs programs, Nationwide, and AM and PM, later moving onto the 7.30 Report. She then joined the ALP and won John Howard’s seat of Bennelong in federal Parliament for the Labor Party, only to lose it in 2010.
Frank McGuire was an award-winning journalist for the ABC, and is currently the Labor state Parliament member for the seat of Broadmeadows.
Mike Bailey, a former ABC weatherman who ran against Joe Hockey in the seat of North Sydney in the 2007 election for the ALP and lost.
Deborah O’Neill, once worked for the ABC, O’Neill in 2010 won preselection for the seat of Robertson — Belinda Neal’s patch — for the ALP and won.
David Hill, ran in the 1998 election for the ALP in the federal NSW seat of Hughes, after he stepped down from his role as Managing Director of the ABC.
Leon Bignell, ex-ABC sports reporter and now a minister in the SA Labor government.
Bob Carr, former Labor Premier of NSW and now federal foreign minister for the ALP, once worked for the ABC as a current affairs journalist.
Mary Delahunty,was a gold Walkey Award-winning news journalist for the ABC, appearing on Four Corners and the 7.30 Report before becoming chief newsreader for the ABC in Victoria. She was elected to the seat of Northcote in the Victorian Legislative Assembly at a 1998 by-election. She was minister for education, 1999-2002, minister for the arts 1999-2006, minister for women’s affairs 2002-2006 and minister for planning 2002-2005. Delahunty did not contest her seat at the 2006 state election.
John Bowler, Formerly of the ABC and now proprietor of The Golden Mail. In 2001 he was elected as the ALP Member for Eyre in the WA Parliament. He is currently the Independent member for Kalgoorlie.
Bob Debus, Energy Minister and Attorney General in the Carr Government who was an ABC broadcaster, Executive Producer of the ABC’s Department of Radio Talks and Documentaries in the 1970s.
Clare Martin, The ALP’s former chief minister in the Northern Territory was the morning presenter on ABC 666 Canberra in the1980s before becoming media adviser to chief minister Rosemary Follett in the first ACT government in 1989. She later moved to Darwin where she returned to the ABC and was at one stage presenter of The 7.30 Report.
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