In Praise Of Our ABC

ABC radio grew my mind. I mean it.

Each working day, throughout my career in the building industry, I listened exclusively to one of our public broadcaster’s fine radio stations as I toiled at my trade.

While my body performed familiar routine activities on this physical plane, my mind travelled the world, sharing the experiences of my fellow humans. I was sensing the zeitgeist, glimpsing the light of our potential, expanding my horizons, growing my understanding.

I heard sweet music. I heard the war of ideas. I developed an awareness of both world affairs and our own domestic political landscape. I felt informed enough to cast a well-considered vote at election time, proud to be a conscious contributor to our social democracy.

This is what a public broadcaster can do for a citizen and, by extension, society at large:

It can inform, educate and entertain. It can reflect the public consciousness and the nation’s conscience. It can help us grow into better people, both individually and communally.

At the end of the day, the ABC, at a cost of few cents a day from each of us, makes our society a better one. That is an absolute pittance if we acknowledge that its social value is beyond measure.

Where do we turn when bushfires rage in our regional areas? Whether in politics, sport or current affairs, the ABC is the source Australians look to for up-to-the-minute information.

So when I see the Turnbull government’s typical conservative agenda to use “financial unsustainability” or “unaffordablity” as reasons to erode services, reduce coverage, sack journalists and generally dumb down this fine national asset I get upset. Very upset. In fact, I’m “mad as hell….etc”.

When government policy development is premised on the financial “bottom line”, social impact and benefit projections are often ignored.

The ABC is intricately entwined with our nation’s history and social fabric, but when conservative politicians see a public broadcaster, their neoliberal instinct is to destroy it.

They see a “socialist” organisation that empowers people and challenges their own elitist authority and sense of entitlement. Their unthinking response is to break it up and dismantle it, in a gradual process of attrition achieved by continual cost-cutting.

The worship of predator capitalism and the preferencing of “the market” ahead of people and our society blinds conservative governments to the social gifts that can flow from an independent public broadcaster such as the ABC.

And this is precisely why Turnbull and Co. must be brought to heel. The arrogance of this government with its blatant agenda to dilute and undermine the people’s broadcaster is astounding.

When former PM Tony Abbott acused the ABC of not being “on the side of Team Australia”, he missed the point, absolutely: “Team Australia” is we, the people. Not some temporary government of the day our democratic process has thrown up.

Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp has driven, over many years, an attack on good journalism globally, sending the quality and depth of reporting in a downward spiral into mediocrity.

Lets face it, the Murdocracy does not encourage thought and consideration.

Murdoch’s presence on our planet has been, and continues to be, a brake on human evolution. His media empire has had a regressive impact on our social development.

After a lifetime of profiteering from divisive and often racist journalism, Murdoch has much to atone for: Spreading the hateful, anti-social tenets of neoliberalism through dumbed-down opinion pieces; demonising every social minority from welfare recipients to Muslims and publishing cartoons that vilify native Australians.

The Murdoch legacy will never be one to celebrate.

So now that a former Murdoch minion has been installed as the ABC’s new managing director by the Turnbull Trickle-down Team, those of us who value the ABC and wish to see it retain some semblance of its former glory are rightfully concerned.

So much damage has already been done. How much more will be done before Australians find themselves without a national broadcaster which operates unconstrained by the frenzied imperatives of profit-making, which rely on hysterical headlines trumpeting hatred, fear and division?

The Abbotts and Turnbulls of this world believe that once in power, every public asset they touch is theirs to do with as they wish, whether that means to sell it, privatise it or close it down.

Our public broadcaster should be off-limits to the barbarians of elitist entitlement.

Who do Turnbull and Co. think they are? Do they truly believe their (imaginary) “mandate” entitles them to ravage what is to most Australians a national institution?

Only the heartless could miss the point: our ABC is the pacemaker to Australia’s beating heart.

Loz Lawrey

9 August 2016


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