ABC cuts protest
(Image: AAP/Penny Stephens)

This week, Crikey readers proved they weren’t ready to give up the fight for the ABC, continuing to discuss how the broadcaster — and in particular chair Ita Buttrose — must respond to constant attacks. After all, an unprecedented crisis requires and unprecedented response. Elsewhere, Crikey readers gave some insight into the government’s demonisation of China — is it calculated fear mongering, history repeating itself, or perhaps both?

On saving the ABC

Penny Ahern writes: The ABC helped to save my elderly parents on the NSW South Coast during the bushfires. It was a vital lifeline as we dashed from Canberra to help them and to try to save their farm. 

Letters to Ita Buttrose, calls to programs, texts to shows. I can’t thank the ABC enough for the coverage and information last summer. But now with so many cuts and jobs axed can we be confident the ABC will be able to respond with the same level of coverage this summer? I’m not.

Chonyi (Diana) Taylor writes: As your article says, it is time for Ita to speak out for the sake of democracy. So much of the damage in [the] USA and here is directly or indirectly due to the power of the Murdoch press. Donald Trump is the most outstanding example of this. He has steadily cut back anything which has the faintest whiff of being environmentally sound or compassionately based.

Even my local supermarket stocks only Murdoch press. In hospital, I have had to ask for The Age because only Murdoch papers are delivered. This is true too of airports. If democracy is to have a place in our society it must be given a voice. The ABC is the most powerful format for doing this in Australia.

Australia, and indeed the planet, simply cannot afford to let this happen. 

Terence Nolan writes: The reality is that it would be difficult for Ita Buttrose to convey to the Australian community the extent to which the ABC is being defunded and the reasons behind these funding cuts. The only way Buttrose could explain the effect of decreasing funding is to do so publicly and that could make a bad situation worse.

Conservative governments in particular hate the ABC’s independence because it raises issues that embarrass them. The constant funding cuts reduces the effectiveness of the ABC to the extent it becomes less than a viable broadcaster. Then the ABC can be either closed down or more probably sold off to Murdoch for a give-away price.

It should also be remembered that conservative governments are dedicated neoliberalists and are totally opposed to public ownership of any kind. A properly funded and totally independent broadcaster is an essential part of a democracy and without it you have an authoritarian society, to which the Morrison government is heading.

Phil Atkinson writes: It’s indeed unfortunate that our “leading” politicians still hold to the false belief that our economy operates like a household or business budget. To them, producing a budget surplus is part of their idiotology that they are “better financial managers” than every other political party. Against a mindset like that, reasoned appeals, backed up by hard figures, won’t dispel their “small government” philosophy, particularly if the target recipient has an IPA background.

So, when appeals to reason all fall by the wayside, there is always the jugular, and Ita should go for it. Expose Paul Fletcher’s IPA background (and also that of others in government) to show the extent of subversion that’s taking place and most importantly, go public with the information during a slow news period, when distractions are less likely to diminish the strength of the message. The entire neoliberal failed economic model and those who push it, need to be held accountable.

On China

Don Wormald writes: Concerns about Chinese electronic surveillance of foreigners, including Australians, coming from a country that has been an integral part of Five Eyes network for more than 60 years sounds a tad hypocritical to me.

I’d only be worried if the Chinese managed to tap into Pine Gap giving them access to all the data the CIA collects on us. Does this escalation of anti-Chinese rhetoric remind anyone else of the propaganda preceding George W. Bush’s disastrous foray into Iraq?

John Lyons writes: Why doesn’t Morrison keep his smelly foot out of our relationship with our biggest neighbour? Are we once again going to fall for “reds under the bed” politics? Take it easy. Thank you Bob Carr you are making sense.

Let us know your thoughts by writing to [email protected]. Please include your full name to be considered for publication in this column.

Peter Fray

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