ABC fails bal­anc­ing act

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

THE pan­de­mo­nium on the streets of Proser­pine for the Ma­roons’ fan day yesterday was a great ex­am­ple of what State of Ori­gin – and rugby league – means to North Queens­lan­ders.

With so many of our Ori­gin he­roes hav­ing hailed from the re­gions, and specif­i­cally the North, it’s no won­der the an­nual in­ter­state bat­tle has be­come such an im­por­tant rit­ual.

The Ma­roons were sup­posed to start at one end of Proser­pine’s main street and walk 500m down the road to the town’s en­ter­tain­ment cen­tre.

But more than 7000 North Queens­land Ori­gin fans were there to greet them, and the 12 stars in at­ten­dance could barely move as they were swamped for more than two hours.

It’s worth not­ing Proser­pine has a pop­u­la­tion of around 3300, mean­ing thou­sands of fans from sur­round­ing towns flocked to see their idols.

The Queens­land Rugby League is to be com­mended for its con­tin­ued tra­di­tion of tak­ing the Ma­roons to re­gional towns dur­ing the Ori­gin se­ries.

It is cer­tainly not some­thing the QRL needs to do to pro­mote the se­ries, such is the ob­ses­sion with Ori­gin across the state, but some­thing de­signed purely to treat the fans and ac­knowl­edge that most peo­ple don’t have a chance to see a game live in the south­ern cap­i­tals.

The scenes in Proser­pine yesterday, which made na­tional news, were a clear demon­stra­tion of North Queens­lan­ders’ pas­sion for the game.

With plans well ad­vanced for the cre­ation of a CBD sta­dium and en­ter­tain­ment precinct in Townsville, league fans can dare to dream that one day the ad­min­is­tra­tors may con­sider bring­ing an Ori­gin game to the North.

Such a spec­ta­cle would be a great ges­ture for the pas­sion­ate rugby league fans of the North, a huge boon for Townsville and no doubt a great suc­cess. AUS­TRALIAN taxpayers de­serve more for the $ 1.1 bil­lion we pay for the Aus­tralian Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion ev­ery year.

Fed­eral Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turnbull is ab­so­lutely right to take the ABC’s Q& A pro­gram to task for its ir­re­spon­si­ble er­ror of judg­ment on Mon­day night of last week.

There is no doubt the de­ci­sion­mak­ing pro­cesses that al­lowed a con­victed crim­i­nal, with known ex­trem­ist views, a plat­form to spread his dan­ger­ous and of­fen­sive be­liefs on na­tional tele­vi­sion must be dis­con­tin­ued.

Many Aus­tralians were grate­ful to Queens­land fed­eral MP Steven Ciobo, who was on the show as a pan­el­list, for de­mon­strat­ing the strength of char­ac­ter re­quired to push back in the face of such an ut­terly ob­jec­tion­able in­di­vid­ual.

As the na­tional public broad­caster, the ABC has a se­ri­ous pro­fes­sional re­spon­si­bil­ity to use our tax­payer dol­lars to de­liver fair and bal­anced cov­er­age.

On Q& A, it’s clear the ABC has been abus­ing this re­spon­si­bil­ity for too long and on Mon­day of last week the pro­gram pushed the en­ve­lope too far.

It con­firms for many peo­ple the belief our na­tional broad­caster has been cap­tured by a clique of Syd­ney/ Mel­bourne- cen­tric so­cial­ists with no con­nec­tion to the val­ues of main­stream Aus­tralia.

The re­luc­tant apol­ogy from man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Mark Scott was disin­gen­u­ous at best and a nail in the cof­fin of trust that ev­ery­day Aus­tralians had for the ABC.

I en­cour­age Mr Turnbull to seek some re­dress for the more prop­erly func­tion­ing arms of the ABC.

I speak, of course, of the ABC ru­ral net­work and ABC lo­cal ra­dio.

Farm­ers and ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties gen­er­ally owe much to the ded­i­ca­tion of the ABC ru­ral net­work of jour­nal­ists.

From Land­line to the Coun­try Hour, grass­roots sto­ries en­sure the ABC is trusted in the bush and also gives our city cousins an idea of life in re­gional Aus­tralia.

ABC lo­cal ra­dio across re­gional Aus­tralia is the life­line for com­mu­ni­ties dur­ing nat­u­ral dis­as­ters and emer­gen­cies. Lo­cal news and lo­cal sto­ries are what Aus­tralian taxpayers ex­pect from the ABC.

It seems the cor­po­rate lead­er­ship of the ABC has been strip­ping away re­sources from re­gional news­rooms and in­stead our tax­payer dol­lars have been fun­nelled into pet projects to pur­sue ide­o­log­i­cal agen­das – with the Left­wing talk­fest that is Q& A the most ob­vi­ous ex­am­ple of this failed, self- in­dul­gent experiment in so­cial en­gi­neer­ing.

As some­one who works along­side ABC jour­nal­ists in re­gional Queens­land, it’s clear that se­verely un­der­staffed ABC net­works in re­gional ar­eas are bat­tling to de­liver news bul­letins and in- depth sto­ries that meet their own stan­dards and ours. They de­serve a fair go from Mark Scott.

The ABC has al­ways been re­garded with af­fec­tion in the homes of most Aus­tralians.

The an­tics of the ABC’s elite are test­ing this re­la­tion­ship.

I, for one, don’t want the good work of the ABC’s ru­ral net­work or ABC lo­cal ra­dio thrown out with Q& A’s dirty bath­wa­ter.

AN­DREW CRIPPS,

Hinch­in­brook MP.

Pic­ture: ABC

HOT SEAT: Q& A host Tony Jones.

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