The ABC Rots from the Head

31 July 2023

2.8 MINS

They say a fish rots from the head. The writer is not sure if it’s true about fish, but it certainly appears so when dealing with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

On behalf of 10,000 of our fellow Australians, the Australian Monarchist League (AML) forwarded the Chair of the ABC Ita Buttrose AC, OBE, a 10,000-strong petition objecting to the unseemly and inappropriate coverage provided by the taxpayer-funded national broadcaster on the occasion of King Charles III’s coronation.

In a letter dated June 19, directed to the Chair, the Board of the ABC was called upon to apologise for the manner of the coverage on the occasion of the coronation and amongst other requests acknowledge it was not fair and honest, deal with the staff involved, and ensure that such an egregious abuse is not repeated by holding an independent inquiry.

Dodging the Issues

The response from the Chair, whilst being one and a half pages, comprehensively failed to deal with the issues. Not only did the correspondence fail to advise whether the complaint had actually been considered by the Board; it also momentously failed to deal with the six requests asked of the ABC.

Instead, platitudes abounded and obfuscation dripped from every syllable of the Chair’s response. The AML was told that audience feedback is ‘appreciated’. What the Chair could not bring herself to admit was that it would nevertheless be ignored.

In fairness, it was recognised that ‘a number of complaints’ had been received, but yet again the Chair seemed unable to tell us the high volume, indeed an unprecedented number, of complaints received. Just an unspecified number.

As to the lack of balance on the program, this was justified by the Chair noting ‘that the ABC approached a range of conservative voices who were invited to appear on the coverage… but they declined’. The extent of the approaches was of course not disclosed. The fact that the ABC had not bothered to approach the AML is indicative of the ‘extent’ of the ABC’s approaches which the AML’s response noted while also highlighting the bias emanating from the very top of the ABC.


Anybody half-knowledgeable about matters Constitutional monarchy/republic knows that the normal political divides do not apply to this debate. The recent opinion polls show clearly that a sizeable number of those who vote for the left side of politics support the constitutional monarchy including Green voters. In the 1999 referendum, the staunchly pro-republican Labor leader Kim Beazley had his electorate reject the republican proposal whereas the staunchly pro-constitutional monarchist Liberal leader John Howard saw his electorate voting for the proposal.

The patronising and dismissive tenor of the Chair’s response seeking to pigeonhole all constitutional monarchists as of necessity ‘conservative’ provides a window into the ABC’s thinking (if that is what it can be called). The need to apply a label and especially that of ‘conservative’ undoubtedly in the ABC group think Ultimo bubble absolves the ABC from any responsibility for getting the coverage of the coronation so very wrong.

Toward the very end of the Chair’s response was the reluctant acknowledgement that there were members of the audience who were ‘disappointed’. It appears the AML’s letter and petition were not worded strongly enough as the Chair gleaned from the letter that it ‘appeared’ to be of the view of the AML and the 10,000 petitioners. ‘Appeared’ indeed. Talk about obtuse and tin-eared.

Calling for an apology, asserting a breach of the ABC’s standards, accusing the ABC of hi-jacking the occasion, and calling for an independent inquiry to ensure such an egregious abuse is not repeated allowed the Chair in harnessing all her powers of perception to deduce that it ‘appeared’ the petitioners were disappointed.

They weren’t disappointed. They were actually outraged. Oblivious to all that bothersome noise from the rabble the concession of apparent disappointment is conceded. And to those, the Chair does not offer an apology. No, the ABC is ‘sorry’, not for its mammoth breach of trust with its taxpayer audience. Rather she feels sorry for those that were disappointed with the ABC’s coverage. Poor darlings — incapable of discerning the sophisticated subtleness of Stan’s sledgehammer.

As the ABC’s market share continues to free-fall, the taxpayer-guaranteed funding allows the management to ignore consumer sentiment.

On a positive note, the AML thanks the ABC for its foolhardiness which has gained the AML many more online supporters.


Originally published in The Spectator Australia. Photo by Danya Gutan.

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