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Crikey Says

Jan 31, 2014

Crikey says: Abbott's wars on different fronts

What if Malcolm Turnbull's review of the ABC and SBS shows they need more money? That'd be awkward. Inside the political turmoil in South Australia -- and why Labor is toast. What Indonesians think about Australia. Last night's (un)Australian film awards -- well done, "Aussie" Leo. Street art: when is it OK? And the dark side of Super Bowl Sunday.


There are plenty of similarities between the two wars — against the union movement and the national broadcaster — the Abbott government restarted this week. And one big difference.

A suspect story on asylum seeker abuse — combined with long-seething resentment from the Coalition caucus and conservative warriors — resulted in an inevitable ABC pile-on from the government and the friendly press. Tony Abbott’s entirely stupid statement that the government-funded broadcaster should be more of a CCTV-style propaganda arm opened the floodgates. And then in a twist we’re supposed to believe is unrelated, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull last night launched an efficiency review of the ABC and SBS to discover if the government can justify slashing the budget.

Meanwhile, more revelations of shocking bullying and systemic corruption within construction unions presented a free kick to the belly of an ideological enemy and threats of a royal commission from the Abbott government. The union movement is riddled with malfeasance, MPs bellowed, and now is the time to rein them in.

As Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney told the ABC’s 7.30 this week: “The Abbott government will use this as nothing but a political witch-hunt to weaken unions, his political enemies.”

True. But here’s the difference: every measure shows the ABC is efficient and the vast majority of Australians believe it’s doing a good job; the union revelations — and they’re far from the first — are serious and contemptible.

Two wars will wage, however unfairly, but in one the victim has to cop some of the blame.


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