Law graduate Michelle Guthrie became the first woman to hold the position of Managing Director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) when she took over from Mark Scott in May 2016.
She is a worthy appointee to arguably the most politically sensitive management position in the land, apart from that of the Prime Minister. Since it was officially launched in 1932 the ABC, “Aunt of the airwaves” has become a beloved part of the Australian way of life, initially following a BBC model, and offering a broad range of news, current affairs, entertainment and cultural enrichment.
The political party in power at its inauguration was the United Australia Party, a forerunner of the Liberal party.. The Prime Minister was Joseph Lyons, former Labor Premier of Tasmania (the only Tasmanian to hold this office). He with several others defected from Federal Labor to the Nationalist Party to form the UAP which continued until being dissolved in 1945.
With its nation-wide news coverage, both major political parties when in power, have sought to possess her and cried unfair political bias, when she has seemed to favour their opponents more than themselves in its programming and news content.
The ABC however does have a charter to follow, some items of which are listed as:
- programs that contribute to a sense of national identity, inform and entertain, and reflect the cultural diversity of the Australian community
- broadcasting programs of an educational nature
- to transmit such programs to other countries
- to encourage and promote the musical, dramatic and other performing arts in Australia
Everyone has an opinion as to how the ABC has fulfilled, or not met its obligations, but few would not agree that it has done much to enrich our lives.
In recent years the criticism has intensified that the ABC wittingly or unwittingly, is biased to the left of politics, and fails to give a voice to strongly conservatives opinions.
The Bolt Report last night I believe unfairly criticised the ABC, and in particular Michelle Guthrie, for scheduling a Q and A (7th August) as part of the Garma Festival in Arnhem Land (NT), and for sympathizing with the aspirations of the Indigenous people of Australia as expressed in the Uluru statement.
The comments herald vehement opposition to any constitutional change that both major parties might wish to present in a referendum to support the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people, and assist them in preserving their culture. The comments suggest indifference to their health and social needs, in harsh and remote regions of Australia.
In a sense, it would be a shame if the negative ultra-right media toned down their unfair rhetoric. It is becoming increasingly apparent to Australians how elitist they are, and indifferent to the needs of ordinary Australians. Their anti-Turnbull rants are uniting the LNP party as nothing else could.