Whoever is eventually appointed to run the ABC, it’s Ultimo to a brick there’ll be no change in the corporation’s shameless leftist bias. It would take a titan of impartial principle and adamantine will to wrench that mutinous vessel, in rebellion against its own charter, back onto an even keel, and a cursory look around the field suggest no titans will be on offer. Some wishy-washy soft-liberal media administrative type is more likely from this government – and if the appointment were up to Labor, the heart quails at the kind of candidate they’d come up with. Tony Jones? Tom Ballard? – no it would have to be a woman: the bumptious Jane Caro perhaps. But of course it was a woman last time, so how about an Aboriginal? Stan Grant? Oh he’s just rather improbably become some sort of professor. A Muslim then? Got it. Waleed Aly as next managing director of the ABC.
The one thing certain is that under the present unwieldy system the staff will continue to be the real boss. That means that as far as impartiality is concerned, the ABC is a write-off. It is just one branch of a tree – the others include the public service, local government, education, even the defence forces – that has been thoroughly white-anted by the Left. Conservatives should ignore it and concentrate on a more important battle, as I shall suggest below.
A good general knows when to make a strategic retreat, to give up ground that can’t be held. For conservatives the ABC is ground that can’t be held. Even if a future conservative government found the courage to try and reform the ABC, and sought to enforce conformity to the charter, it would find that you can’t change the opinions and prejudices of programme-makers by parliamentary pressure. The bias would still slip through, in nuance and emphasis. The political and cultural worldview of the ABC is impervious to change because it is a worldview entrenched in the wider community, which our education systems are making sure gets more entrenched by the year. If we could reform education, reform of the ABC and all the other leftist fiefdoms we pay for would follow.
Public discussion about the ABC is clouded by the principle that if you say something often enough it must be true. We have been told so many times, mainly by the ABC itself, about its unique value to the community, the sublime standards of its local output and so forth that we have come to believe it, when the truth is that the ABC is a rather mediocre broadcaster producing programmes that are mainly pinches of British or American ideas. Further, it is an anachronism. If it hadn’t been established in the days when governments believed they had to control the airwaves we would not be inventing it now.
It’s not as though the ABC was the only source of television and radio information or entertainment. In fact (and this is another reason for abandoning it) it is a very minor source compared with what else is available. It’s a dinosaur emitting a bat squeak. So let’s just pretend it doesn’t exist.
The beauty of this approach is that no one can possibly object to it. There can be no leftist screams about ‘cuts’, no staff walkouts (as if most of us could care about that), no elderly squeaks of protest from Friends of the ABC as they settle down with a cuppa in front of 7.30 wondering what happened to nice Bill Peach. Ignoring the ABC means ceasing to worry about defunding it or selling it piecemeal or making it take ads, though all of that could come in time. We simply leave the ABC to those who find pleasure in its infantile and vulgar ‘comedy’ and leaden dramas and who imagine they are being informed by its superficial ill-scripted news and current affairs. There’s much better of everything elsewhere in the huge supermarket of internet media, plenty of finer fish in the vast digital ocean. The ABC won’t wither away if non-leftists ignore it but it will become more obviously irrelevant, in the same way that the Fairfax press is becoming irrelevant as its traditional readership deserts it.
To ignore the ABC is not as radical as it sounds. Most people already do. No more than 25 per cent of Australians watch or listen to the ‘national broadcaster’, regularly or sometimes, which makes it rather ridiculous for conservatives to worry about its ‘influence’. Conservative politicians can help reduce the ABC further into irrelevance by resisting the siren call of their egos and never appearing on it.
Some conservatives might argue that if they don’t use the ABC they shouldn’t have to pay for it. But the ABC is already funded largely by people who never turn it on. Besides, in a democracy we have to pay for lots of things we don’t use or even approve of. We can’t pick and choose, even in a society in which most of the institutions inherited from a more coherent era have been taken over by the Left. The ABC is like the Australia Council. We’ve all had to reconcile ourselves to paying our share of its highly questionable ‘arts’ handouts.
Conservatives should consolidate their energy for the only fight that is going to matter if the power of the Left in our society is to be diminished. Education is the battlefield, and particularly schools, because everybody goes to school and if students are taught to think clearly those who go on to university will be able to cope with whatever leftist nonsense is thrown at them there. Education is the key to our future political complexion, and time is running out. One generation is already lost – try having a conversation with a recent arts graduate without using words like imperialist, racist, exploitation, white or supremacy. That’s about all they know. This is a direct result of accumulated – and calculated, on the principles of Gramsci – leftist indoctrination in the guise of education. Changing that is going to be the battle of the century, but somehow it has to be done. Younger Liberal MPs know this – that’s why Amanda Stoker and James Paterson challenged the universities over free speech on campus (and look like winning). All conservatives – politicians and especially parents – must follow their lead and find the political will to take on the leftist educational fortress. Otherwise, rising generations, schooled in leftist intolerance, will ensure that the democratic liberties we have known in this country will not survive into the foreseeable future.
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