ABC luminaries past and present have been
in touch in response to Friday’s piece fact checking Keith Windschuttle’s claim
that Marxists recruited by Allan Ashbolt
and his followers still controlled the ABC.
The general tenor of the comments has been to agree that “Ashbolt’s
kindergarten” is a thing of the past.

One very senior management figure as well
as one senior broadcaster suggested in separate conversations that this
was
symptomatic of the real tragedy of Windschuttle’s appointment. His
political views hardly matter a jot. What matters is that the
challenges facing
the ABC are all to do with new media and the future.

The appointment of people not qualified to
meet these challenges is lost opportunity, and a type of culpable neglect. Windschuttle was certainly once an expert on
media, but his recent work and his comment about Ashbolt are evidence that he
is out of date.

Several people pointed out that I had
missed one member of “Ashbolt’s kindergarten”: the current New South Wales
Attorney-General Bob Debus, who was an ABC broadcaster before he entered
politics.

Meanwhile Jon Cassidy, one of the alleged
Marxists, writes:

“A number of people with leftish views
worked in Ashbolt’s department. Some were there by choice, others, like
myself, were there
because the Special Projects Department was created by ABC management
as a kind of sin bin to place a range of unwanted people, including
both leftists and a range of other people on the outer…Special
Projects Radio was designed to be a backwater where people perceived as
being
suspect…could be quarantined. Terry Lane, recently retired as
a regular broadcaster with the ABC, joined Special Projects from the
ABC’s religious department, and while he often describes himself as
being on the left, has conservative views on a number of issues, and is
particularly unpopular with feminists. No-one could reasonably describe
Dennis
Harrison, John Hill, Patrick Amer, Norma Ferris, Vic Kennedy, Mary-Lou
Jelbart,
David Coller or Robert Horne, who all worked under Ashbolt, as
Marxists.”

Cassidy also corrects my statement that he
had changed his name. Darce has been his nickname since the early 1960s.

Still calling all members of Ashbolt’s
kindergarten, Marxist or not. Responses
please to [email protected]

Peter Fray

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