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Ita Buttrose picks a side — and it isn’t the ABC’s

New ABC chair Ita Buttrose thinks the broadcaster's employees might have a bias problem. Plus other tips from the week.

Ita Buttrose tips
(Image: AAP/Dan Himbrechts)

From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours…

Ita picks a side. The ABC’s newly appointed chair Ita Buttrose raised eyebrows yesterday after telling ABC Radio that the organisation “might be biased” in its reporting, during a discussion about the election and the looming $84 million funding cut expected to hit the broadcaster. Buttrose said some staff could be unconsciously showing bias and that the broadcaster, which has survived every inquiry thrown its way, “could do with more diversity of views”.

Is Buttrose basing this on any recent evidence, or was she reaching out to the anti-ABC crowd? After every election, the ABC formally reviews its election coverage, and when reached by Crikey to determine whether an election coverage review had been completed a spokeswoman would only confirm that there were various reviews, “all still underway”.

Wilson loves retirees. Liberal MP Tim Wilson really has embraced the cause of looking after seniors, regardless of how it harms the national interest. With the Reserve Bank flagging that unemployment won’t go down without interest rate cuts, you’d think any MP would be all for higher employment growth that gets more Aussies into work and increases wages. Ah, but no: after his success with demonising Labor’s franking credits policy, Wilson thinks the interests of the unemployed and workers with stagnant wages come second to retirees, telling the AFR that an interest rate cut would be “specious” and that it would hurt retirees.

“It can actually reduce disposable income for those who can afford it least,” he warned.

Given the Coalition’s policy of deliberate wage stagnation, cuts to penalty rates and opposing minimum wage rises, Wilson probably knows what he’s talking about when he refers to reducing disposable income — which as the RBA recently pointed out has fallen away badly under the Coalition. Still, they can always put their money in shares and rip off taxpayers with the franking credits rort, can’t they Tim?

Minimum chips. The Fair Work Commission this morning bumped up minimum wages by 3%. That’s down from last year’s 3.5% decision, but still well ahead of inflation, currently running at an anaemic 1.3%.

In recent years, what “growth” there has been in wages has been driven by health and social care spending by governments, which has continued to expand our biggest industry — the health, aged, child and disability care sectors — and minimum wage increases mandated by the FWC. This is usually without any support from the government, which likes it minimum wages pretty minimal, thank you very much.

Meantime, look for business to warn even an increase of just 3% will cause mass unemployment — a traditional claim from the right that has now been utterly discredited.

The land of the freedom molecules. American journos have stumbled upon what has to be the most patriotic press release of all time. The US Department of Energy, which has long been subject to complaints of climate change censorship under the Trump administration, has announced an expansion of the Freedom LNG project in Texas as a means of spreading “freedom gas” and “molecules of U.S. freedom” to the world. 

Crikey cannot wait until the fad spreads Down Under for news of “freedom coal”, “freedom droughts” and “freedom coral graveyards” (ping Courier-Mail).

Freedom gas molecules press release
A section of the US Department of Energy’s press release

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Peter Fray

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