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National Observer Home > No. 59 - Summer 2004 > Editorial Comment

The A.B.C. and S.B.S.: Bastions of the State-Subsidised Left

Are there any employees of the Australian Broadcasting Commission who are not supporters of the Labor Party or the Greens? If there are such, they are obviously few and modest in their approach, since the left-of-centre bias of the A.B.C. is painfully evident.

Of course, the political bias of the A.B.C. has long been a matter of controversy. Characteristically, those on the political left often defend it, for two reasons. First, because a person with a particular view tends not to see the fault or bias in another person adopting the same view. Secondly, because as a matter of cynical politics those on the Left regard it as expedient to defend left-of-centre allies, whatever their faults or errors.

The fact that the A.B.C. has not been improved by the government of Mr. John Howard reflects one of his greatest weaknesses. Although Coalition ineptness was largely attributable to Senator Alston, one of the least capable Ministers, Mr. Howard himself is primarily responsible for this failure.

The politicisation of the A.B.C. was recently discussed in this journal under the heading "Is the A.B.C. Any Longer Necessary?".1

What must also be understood is that the other Commonwealth government network, S.B.S., has also been captured by the Left. S.B.S. is, broadly, a "multicultural" station. It presents programmes in many foreign languages that are aimed at particular ethnic groups in the Australian community. Hence the fundamental reason for its existence is flawed. The encouragement of multiculturalism is not desirable from the viewpoint of the Australian nation as a whole. Although freedom of association must always be respected, there should not be a government subsidisation of ghettos, whether they be of Muslims, Vietnamese, Greeks or any other group. Immigrants should be encouraged to think of themselves as Australians and to adopt the English language and not to segregate themselves culturally in accordance with the countries that they have left.

The encouragement by S.B.S. of multiculturalism has also tended to support the arising of the ethnic lobbies in Australia, particularly amongst Vietnamese and Moslem immigrants. These lobbies in turn attempt to apply pressures that are very much against the national interest, by seeking apparently limitless immigration from their countries of origin. Moslem immigration to Australia has already been too high. It may be hoped that many Moslems will in due course return to their own countries, in view of the frictions that some of them cause here. To accept further Moslem immigrants as encouraged by S.B.S. is entirely inappropriate.

But the difficulties with S.B.S. are aggravated by its political position. Like the A.B.C., it has been taken over by the Left; and increasingly so. Typically, it is now seeking to broadcast propaganda material from the Vietnamese communist government, contrary to the wishes of Australian organisations of Vietnamese immigrants. Most of these immigrants fled Vietnam because they were persecuted by their government. Many had been incarcerated in indoctrination camps; many still have relatives in Vietnam who are subject to inhumane communist treatment. Hence there is incredulity on their part that S.B.S. is gratuitously acting as a conduit and propaganda agent for the communist Vietnamese government.

The broadcasting by the S.B.S. of Thoi Su, a daily propaganda programme of news and comment prepared by an agency of the Vietnamese Communist Party, led to recent public questioning by Senator Stephen Conroy, at a Senate estimates committee hearing. It has been reported that "a typical Thoi Su show starts with a fawning report on Vietnam's Communist Party Boss, then a gushing one on its prime minister, and then a reverential one on the head of its National Assembly. All hail the Communist Party."2

Mr. Nigel Milan, the head of S.B.S. defended broadcasting Thoi Su against Senator Conroy's questioning. Mr. Milan had previously been warned by his head of radio, Mr. Quang Luu, who had come to Australia from Vietnam to escape persecution, that broadcasting Thoi Su would upset many Vietnamese living in Australia, but despite complaints by many Vietnamese, and a crowd of 4,000 Vietnamese outside S.B.S. headquarters, protesting at the broadcasts, Mr. Milan insisted on continuing with the dissemination of this offensive propaganda, and only reluctantly gave way.

Responsibility for these matters rests with Mr. Milan, and it must be doubted whether he is a suitable head of S.B.S. insofar as he insisted upon broadcasting Thoi Su long after this appeared to be undesirable.

In fact similar issues arise with S.B.S. as with the A.B.C. Each institution is funded by taxpayers. Each institution is controlled by left-of-centre groups who use its facilities to support their political and social programmes.

In general, it is preferable that politically tainted organisations should not be funded by the Commonwealth government. One may well ask why Mr. John Howard has not turned his attention to this matter. He will not be carrying out his duties to the Australian electorate until he either removes political bias from the A.B.C. and S.B.S. or terminates or privatises both entities.

Because the Left is so solidly entrenched in the A.B.C. and S.B.S. the removal of political bias will be a matter of extreme difficulty. Hence the practicable options are either termination or privatisation. On balance privatisation appears preferable, since it will cease to enable the controlling political groups to support the organisations with taxpayer subsidisation. If privatisation is not successful, this will be in view of a lack of support amongst Australians for the A.B.C. and S.B.S. agendas, and their inappropriateness will be confirmed.

1. "Is the A.B.C. Any Longer Necessary?", National Observer, No. 56, pages 5-7. This discussion accepted that a new entity replacing A.B.C. radio could appropriately present classical music, and it has been commented that some of the scientific programmes presented by the A.B.C. could also be continued. The A.B.C. news and current affairs programmes are too politicised to be preserved.

2. "S.B.S.: Tyrant's Voice", Andrew Bolt, The Herald Sun, 7 November 2003.

National Observer No. 59 - Summer 2004