Terrence Watson delves deeper into the thought process behind the Liberal Party's vote to privatise the ABC.
FEW WOULD'VE been surprised to hear that the ABC was under threat following a vote of the Liberal Party’s federal council on Saturday. Given the Government’s recent history of complaints and funding “adjustments”, it’s fair to say the relationship is less than cordial. But the situation facing Malcolm Turnbull and his government poses a question as old as political parties themselves: The party — or the people.
But the problem with his brushing off of the sale is that he’s alienating the people he’s claiming to represent. By saying the motion – which, it has to be said, is not binding on the Government – is not Government policy, he’s rejecting the wishes of the organisation for which he’s the parliamentary leader.
It’s true that this position is an attempt to minimise political damage to the Government, but every time a Government minister or backbench member says “let’s discuss the merits”, voters are hearing eagerness.
At the sold-out event, the sense of public ownership is palpable. It is our ABC. We all pay for it and we all want access to it. And we are media, besides. It's our job to get answers. https://t.co/oBWNy8Nt7C #HandsOffOurABC— Michelle Pini (@vmp9) June 20, 2018
The obvious path of destruction is in choosing a side, truly condemned one way or the other.
Choosing party over the people in a season of by-elections, with potentially significant implications for both sides of politics, is a dangerous game to play and getting the public offside on what’s been rated as Australia’s most trusted democratic pillar is beyond playing with fire.
On the other hand, choosing people over party risks further antagonising a ever-growing conservative rump, rising out of Victoria and Queensland. This aside from the conservatives in his own party room who’ve been emboldened by the move. The PM keeping his job means keeping his party happy.
You could, therefore, argue that the best strategy to appease both party and people would be to delay, to say nothing and defer the question, and hope that it all goes away.
But with a stalking Opposition looming and trust in politicians at an all-time low, Turnbull may end up angering both.
Terrence Watson is a member of the Australian Labor Party and has worked on a number of their campaigns, including the 2016 Federal Election, where he worked for the Labor Herald. You can read more by Terrence on his blog: www.terrencewatson.com.
Nats and Libs disagree on ABC— lynlinking (@lynlinking) June 20, 2018
This idea that somehow Mr Turnbull and the Liberal Party are two separate entities, two complete strangers sitting at a bar talking to each other, is rubbish." https://t.co/Q6WJVvLC1a via @theyoungwitness
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