Thank you, comrade 

Pamela Papadopoulos writes: Re. “Rundle: Gough crashed through and crashed — and he made Australia what it will ever be” (yesterday). Gough Whitlam enabled many post-war migrants to obtain a free tertiary education and become members of the establishment today.

His policies showed that given the opportunity, many individuals can benefit from improving their socio-economic status and lives through progressive initiatives. His achievements are a great testament to having visionaries in politics that benefit our society as a whole. May his passing inspire great leadership from all sides in the next generation of leaders.

It is our ABC

Roger Kelly writes: Re. “The ABC debate: why Beecher and Crikey fear the ABC” (yesterday). It IS our ABC. Reading yesterdays articles in the “ABC debate”, I was initially disturbed and angry, really angry. My first take was “how could Crikey come out with such a trifecta of articles questioning the raison d’etre of the ABC?” I returned after an hour and read again. OK — got it.

Many times in my life, I have had cause to say that Australia could not remain a democracy — such as it is — without the ABC. In such conversations I would relate that people from other countries can’t believe that we have a government-funded broadcaster that is by its own charter, able to be critical of, inter alia, the government of the day. We have programs like Q&A, where people can ask awkward political and other questions on live TV and have politicians et al answer them.

We have an ABC that does a weekly exposof questionable media and related events — including the ABC itself — existing as the only believable hand-brake on an increasingly out-of-control “self-regulated” commercial media, with blatant political, social, and self-promoting agendas and method. We have Radio National that has politicians out of bed at 6am to check the pulse of their day, with insightful questions that aren’t modified by a Murdochracy, advertising alliances or managerial intent.

Few people no longer believe that governments (particularly the Right and neocons) are not beholden to commercial media for effective support. This is not new, but it’s no longer “that old chestnut” either. The insidious and inevitable mission creep is now at such a tempo, that people are broadly accepting that this is how it has to be. For myself at least, there’s the rub.

The ABC’s content is not dictated to by the pressure of advertising and shareholders. We watches/listeners do not have to devolve into wham-bam hold-their-attention-at-any-cost, tabloid material and format. They are not bound to a risk-free commonality that has hammered the creative thinking of those who now — through persistent exposure — may know no better.

Making funding judgments of the ABC by comparing it to commercial models is a effective and malicious political furphy.  The ABC is a service (remember that term?) that we pay for through our taxes. Any notion that it should justify itself by paying it’s way like the commercial models is sleight of hand in a campaign to get it out of the political way. It is not a commercial model. It is the ABC, and by charter it is not a business model.

Issues raised in terms of the ABC having to justify itself are for these reasons irrelevant. The ABC is under attack because it is a consistent crumb in the political lemonade — and you and I need it to be.

Peter Fray

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