As voters may recall, Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t mind a conspiracy theory. He blew up his leadership in 2009 on charges of corruption aimed at the then-prime minister and treasurer, all based on the fantasies and forgery of a Liberal Party supporter in Treasury.

Now Turnbull is at it again, this time on a slightly lower level, but on a much broader canvas. According to the Communications Minister yesterday, there was a conspiracy between the ABC and the federal Labor Party while it was in government:

Turnbull: “The ABC, under Labor, just got more money every year and I think there was in effect a political bargain between the Labor government and the management of the ABC. ‘We will keep sending you more money and you just have peace on the industrial front of the ABC.’ So they never had the incentive –”

David Speers: “You are not suggesting the editorial part of that bargain?”

Turnbull: “I’m not suggesting that. Others can infer that.”

Putting aside that it’s gutless of Turnbull to let others “infer” something he clearly wants to suggest, what evidence is there of this vast left-wing conspiracy? Did the ABC take it easy on Labor while it was in government?

The ABC’s now-shuttered “Online Investigative Unit”, often using The Australian as its guide, ran a persistent campaign against the Rudd government over its schools building stimulus program, a program repeatedly given the tick by independent reviewers and one of the most successful GFC stimulus programs anywhere in the world; Four Corners ran a questionable story on the home insulation program; and then there was the Juliar “typo” on an ABC news story.

Maybe Turnbull can check with his Liberal colleague Sarah Henderson, a former ABC reporter, or call former ABC presenter Pru Goward in Sydney, or Jonathan Holmes, who while at Media Watch defended The Australian’s now-discredited campaign against Julia Gillard over the AWU affair. If Labor had any deal with the ABC, it got dudded.

As conspiracy theories go, this one is about as solid as the Godwin Grech case.

Peter Fray

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