Federal Labor has warned that if the Liberal party wins the next election they will be “emboldened” to sell the ABC. This news follows Bill Shorten’s pledge last week to fully restore ABC funding if elected.
This comes after calls from some members of the Liberal party for the ABC (Australia’s tax-funded national broadcaster) to be privatised outside of regional Australia.
Head government members are being quick to deny that there are any proposals to sell the ABC, despite the fact a motion proposing just that passed with overwhelming support at the Liberal national conference over the weekend.
Labor’s Bill Shorten said that it was “outrageous” that the sitting government was talking about privatising the ABC.
The motion that passed at the national conference is non-binding and unlikely to have a major impact on government policy. However, the motion does reveal insight into the ideological positions of the party at large.
Mathias Cormann said that the Federal Government had been clear about the future of the ABC. He assured that the Government was not going to privatise the ABC.
He said that the conference was “for the rank and file” and for “party volunteers” to express their opinions. He said that Labor was chasing a policy change that wasn’t a reality.
However, the Government has put increased pressure on the ABC over the last few months, having lodged multiple complaints with the broadcaster’s Managing Director, Michelle Guthrie.
Mr Shorten made the argument that, if elected, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull would come under even more pressure to go further with actions against the ABC. He said that Mr Turnbull had been trying to distance himself from the more extreme views in his party but that he would ultimately be beholden to them at the next election.
He said that the notion that Mr Turnbull and the Coalition were “two separate entities” was “rubbish”.
Mr Shorten denied claims that he guilty of doing the same thing, with Victorian left wing Labor members demanding Labor abandon its policy to maintain offshore detention centres for asylum seekers and refugees.
He said that his “track record” of keeping his party’s policy uniform was “much better” than that of Mr Turnbull. He said that he will “take the debate to my party” and that Mr Turnbull was “afraid” of confronting his colleagues.