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Crikey says: Turnbull’s extraordinary intervention

And then it exploded: both Christopher Pyne and the Gonski funding education reforms. The Fairfax journo lashed for being a climate contrarian. Your guide to the latest Murdoch v ABC stoush. What we learned about our new MPs yesterday. Margot Saville’s shout. And a colourful tribute to pop artist Martin Sharp.

The ABC Act, section 78, subsection 6:

Except as provided by this section, or as expressly provided by a provision of another Act, the Corporation is not subject to direction by or on behalf of the Government of the Commonwealth.”

Malcolm Turnbull is dangerously close to doing exactly that. Put aside the ideology of the war on the ABC, the grudges and accusations of bias that have come from every government since Aunty’s first broadcast, the convention is clear: ministers can’t interfere in the editorial content of the ABC.

Turnbull, we’ve learned, not only contacted ABC managing director Mark Scott — not, as convention dictates, the government-appointed chairman — but complained specifically about the deal under which ABC News ran The Guardian’s cracking Edward Snowden-derived scoop on Indonesian spying.

It’s an extraordinary intervention, perhaps the worst since John Howard’s media minder Richard Alston formally and vigorously complained about the broadcaster’s coverage of the Iraq war in 2003.

Scott stood firm, as he should. And he’ll have the public firmly on side — the ABC is one of the most trusted institutions in the land; its many viewers don’t take kindly to bully governments trying to influence its reporting.

We’re told this morning’s Coalition party room meeting was dominated by talk of ABC bias. As if there’s nothing more pressing for a new federal government to focus on. The war will wage. But Turnbull won’t win.

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  • 1
    klewso
    Posted Tuesday, 3 December 2013 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Turnbull wants wall-to-wall-papered Limited News type views coverage - editing/judging for us voters/punters what constitutes “public interest”?
    This is the one-eyed egomaniac that goes on TV to play “Bumpole”; gave “10 very large” to a Russian consortium (led by a Murdoch relative) for rain, while he was Howard’s “Murray Darling Minister”; allowed himself to be taken in by Grech, Abetz and Murdoch’s Muppet Show, and whom Tony Jones has described as “one of the sharpest legal minds in the country”?

  • 2
    klewso
    Posted Tuesday, 3 December 2013 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like they might be scared Snowden’s files might go back to “Howard’s Way”?

  • 3
    jmendelssohn
    Posted Tuesday, 3 December 2013 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Wasn’t a much younger Malcolm Turnbull the scourge of the British establishment when he defended opening up secrets in the Spycatcher case?

  • 4
    zut alors
    Posted Tuesday, 3 December 2013 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Back in the halcyon days (prior to becoming an MP) Turnbull would’ve fought for the independence of the ABC. And supported the ALP’s superior version of the NBN. Poor Malcolm, it’s come to this…

  • 5
    Bill Hilliger
    Posted Tuesday, 3 December 2013 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Next will Malcolm be tea-bagging Loopert?

  • 6
    drmick
    Posted Tuesday, 3 December 2013 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    He is rich enough to vote tory now. Must be hurting him though, as his smile gets more corporophagic each day he has to swallow what the rest of the front bench leave for him. Their aversion and dislike of genuine quality and any virtue is obvious, shameful and disgusting. Smacks of abbut wrecking sydney unis student union from the inside all over again.

  • 7
    David Hand
    Posted Tuesday, 3 December 2013 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Scott will “have the public firmly on side” until a bomb goes off in the centre of an Australian city because Australia’s intelligence establishment was severely damaged by Snowdon stealing classified information and the ABC yelled the story from the rooftops. Will Scott look so smart and principled then?

    It’s all very well to watch too many “evil shady government agencies in the pocket of the military industrial establishment” movies and think that the real enemy is in ASIO in Canberra.

    911 dramatically empowered the intelligence community to increase its activities and powers, perhaps too much, but don’t forget who the enemy is.

    The CIA didn’t do 911. Ah, wait on, maybe quite a lot of people here think they did?

  • 8
    The Pav
    Posted Tuesday, 3 December 2013 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Firstly , the authorities can’t be trusted with power. Just look how WA Police have abused the move on proviosions they have. The only protection is a free and unbiased media, commercial media tends to fail at this.

    Secondly

    I have never been on a protest and have confined by activisim to the very occiasional letter to the paers or posts on Crikey or tyhe ABC but if there is an attempt to muzzle the ABC I swear I will be out in the streets with as many people I can organise. I will defend my ABC.

    Thirdly

    If this is true then I am so disappointed in Turnbull. I had hoped he was better than the others.

  • 9
    drmick
    Posted Tuesday, 3 December 2013 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    Geez, bolts apprentice has a the brain and the memory of a goldfish. Who exclusively leaked front page wikileaks non stop?

  • 10
    David Hand
    Posted Tuesday, 3 December 2013 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    Doctor,
    It was the Guardian, right?

  • 11
    Matt Hardin
    Posted Tuesday, 3 December 2013 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    So tell me David Hand, how is monitoring the communications of everyone in the world (effectively) helping as opposed to the old way of finding things out? You know get some evidence go to a judge get a warrant, bring a case etc.

    Do you seriously believe that the president of a country of 300 million people is going to talk about state sponsored terrorism on his mobile phone or his wife’s mobile phone?

    Also, do you think that PRISM has been shut down as a result of the revelations? Or will be?

    Your fear mongering is quite extraordinary.

    (For the record I do not believe that the terrorist attacks in 2001 were organised by the CIA or FBI although despite their prodigious ability to gather intelligence they failed to notice it being prepared)

  • 12
    AR
    Posted Tuesday, 3 December 2013 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    DH-Still typing one-handed.

  • 13
    David Hand
    Posted Tuesday, 3 December 2013 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    Hey AR,
    I appreciate your friendly and constructive comments.
    They always add so much to the debate and expand people’s thinking about important issues of the day.

  • 14
    klewso
    Posted Tuesday, 3 December 2013 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    Penberthy Syndrome”

  • 15
    drmick
    Posted Tuesday, 3 December 2013 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    Nope klewso a definite aggressive sigmoid position with right sided blindness. Hope he sunglasses because the sun will be a bug ger on that good eye eventually.

  • 16
    klewso
    Posted Tuesday, 3 December 2013 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    Now (7:30) ASIO has raided the offices of a lawyer, re some “buggery that happened during Howard’s time, re Timor(?)” or such? Something happening in The Hague?

  • 17
    Mark from Melbourne
    Posted Wednesday, 4 December 2013 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    Rupert made me…

  • 18
    klewso
    Posted Wednesday, 4 December 2013 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    Justice” is game played by lawyers - selling their words and convictions to get a seat.

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