As is usually the case when Aunty is mentioned, Crikey readers responded in number to Margot Saville on broadcaster Jonathan Holmes’ recent discussion of the need for conservative voices in the ABC. Elsewhere, readers discussed the hot-button-topic of Australia’s gun lobby.
Jonathan Holmes writes: Margot Saville’s report of the Gleebooks event for my book “On Aunty” was accurate and astute (as anyone who knows Margot would expect). But perhaps I should clarify my position: I think the ABC’s news and current affairs programs are for the most part “accurate and impartial” (to echo the ABC act). However, I argue in the book, and I argued last night, that here and there in the ABC’s output — especially on Radio National — those whose political views are right of centre and whose cultural views are conservative should be able to find programs where they feel welcome. Giving brief nods to Amanda Vanstone and Tom Switzer isn’t enough.
It’s not a matter of shifting the ABC’s total output to the right: that’s entirely unnecessary, despite what News Corp’s culture warriors maintain. It is a question of providing more diversity. Paul Kelly may be asking questions on the part of a minority of Australians — but it’s a sizeable minority, and it has a right not to feel sidelined by the national broadcaster it helps to pay for. It’s hardly a revolutionary proposition, even in Glebe. Nor is it by any means the central thesis of my book, which is far more concerned with the twin pressures that tore the ABC’s leadership apart last year: political and budgetary pressure from government, and digital disruption.
Christopher Hood writes: Apart from claims by parliamentarians, complaints against ABC stories run about equally from left and right. It’s the huge number of weaponised claims by parliamentarians, almost entirely conservative, that skew those figures. Jonathan Holmes is wrong to give any credence to Kelly’s rhetorical questions. The way to deal with rhetorical slurs is to answer, as with every rhetorical question.
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Ray Bricknell writes: As a centrist swing voter and devout listener to and watcher of ABC programs, I think Holmes is right — the ABC has a responsibility to air the points of view of all sides of every issue. Where else can the public access such debate?
Andrew Glickson writes: Previously the ABC tried to maintain a “balance” between climate scientists and climate change deniers, and failed. In so far as critics of the ABC are asking for a “balance”, I append examples where a “balance” of opinions, namely between objective reality and untruths cannot be sustained: “the Earth is not round but is flat”; “wars are good for the economy”; “climate change is a hoax”.
Barry Welch writes: There is a real irony in some states, as part of the National Firearms Agreement, having membership of a gun club as one of the conditions for gun licence eligibility. Gun clubs such as the Sporting Shooters Association now weaponise millions in fees to run political campaigns to weaken the very gun laws that the requirement was designed to protect.
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