April 28, 2004


James Morrow in The Australian:

ABC viewers were shocked to learn last week that the man who spent six years administering the UN's Iraqi oil-for-food program stood accused of receiving millions of dollars in bribes from Saddam Hussein's regime. The official, Benon Sevan, had conveniently slipped off to a Queensland resort as the scandal broke and gave reporters who showed up on his hotel doorstep a brusque "no comment" before retreating to the comforts within.

But the ABC that aired the story and tracked Sevan down in Noosa Heads was not Australia's taxpayer-financed broadcaster but the American television network. Meanwhile, Australia's ABC has remained virtually silent on the story, choosing to run little more than a couple of newswire stories on Sevan's trip on their website.

Itís almost as if they wish this story would, like Sevan himself, simply go away. Perhaps the ABC is still following UN guidelines.

Posted by Tim Blair at April 28, 2004 01:50 PM

Perhaps with the budget slashing that this government has done to the ABC their resources are limited, and they can't follow all the stories James would like them to.

Perhaps also with the few resources remaining they prefer to examine corruption in our own back yard .

Posted by: Rex at April 28, 2004 at 02:07 PM

Please detail this budget slashing, Rex.

Posted by: tim at April 28, 2004 at 02:12 PM

viewers were "shocked" to learn? I don't think many were shocked at all - I know i certainly wasn't. The UN is full of corruption and lies? You dont say...

Posted by: attila at April 28, 2004 at 02:37 PM

I'm referring to the significantly reduced annual funding since the Howard government took office as demonstrated by this table . Thus requiring the ABC to rationalise its activities. I'm sure you approve of this Tim, but you have to at the same time acknowledge that they can't then be expected to be at James' beck and call.

Posted by: Rex at April 28, 2004 at 04:02 PM

Rex - the ABC is too poor to report on a real king sized vicious fraud like oil-for-favours but does have the funds to endlessly hound Alan Jones et al for making a quid.
Priorities not dollars are the ABC's problem.

Obviously shutting up an effective influential right winger is far more important than exposing a UN and international scam that cost countless lives.

Posted by: lawrie at April 28, 2004 at 04:09 PM

Go get him Rex.

Posted by: Strawman at April 28, 2004 at 04:17 PM

Lawrie, don't worry. The ABC will never be able to shut up the Prime Minister.

Posted by: Rex at April 28, 2004 at 04:18 PM


The table you point us to suggests the ABC budget (All Commonwealth Funds) has grown every year (adjusted for inflation) from 1997-98.

Say ... wasn't John Howard elected in 1996?

That John Howard must be an evil man to keep increasing the ABC budget.

Posted by: Bruce at April 28, 2004 at 04:50 PM

Bruce - Take another look at the Operating Revenue Column. That's where the funds for James' extra journos must come from.

Posted by: Rex at April 28, 2004 at 04:56 PM

Perhaps with the budget slashing that this government has done to the ABC their resources are limited

You have a stunning future ahead of you as a Professional Apologist, sir. Godspeed.

Posted by: Sortelli at April 28, 2004 at 05:21 PM

1990 - Labor in Power - Cwlth Contributions to ABC = 740.4m (peak Labor figure 740.6m)
1996-97 (last year Labor in power) - Cwlth contributions to ABC = 685.5m
2003-2004 Cwlth contributions to ABC = 758.6m

All figures adjusted to 2003-2004 dollars.

Many thanks for the link, Rex. Kudos for providing evidence, even if the analysis was, um, ...well, thanks again for the URL.

Posted by: Alan E Brain at April 28, 2004 at 08:12 PM

Poor old Rex couldn't even get his statistics right. It appears that like all left wingers, he's all urine and wind.

Personally, I think the ABC news and current affairs units should be shut down and the money saved given back to the taxpayers in tax cuts. When we can get our news and opinions from many sources as we can now, there is no need fopr a Governement funded broadcaster, especially when its worldview is that of the half-educated troglodytes of the left.

Posted by: Toryhere at April 28, 2004 at 09:22 PM

You mean the American ABC is more aggressively pursuing a story that contradicts progressive groupthink than the Australian ABC? Wow, that is a pretty low standard - the American ABC (like CBS and NBC) are not exactly relentless pit bulls when it comes to investigating left-wing pieties. I'm sorry that Australians have to finance this kind of non-news.

Posted by: Bruce at April 29, 2004 at 01:39 AM

That shouldn't be surprising at all, Bruce. After all, while ABC/CBS/CNN/NBC may be ... lax ... in investigating left-wing criminality, they are MILES ahead of PBS/NPR.

Posted by: Gary and the Samoyeds at April 29, 2004 at 01:58 AM

I'm sure if the ABC dumped bullshit programs like Mondo Thingo, The New Inventors, The Einstein Factor...etc it could better fund such investgative journalism (doubtful it would improve the quality or balance).

Maybe even reinstate Behind the News at the same time?

Posted by: bad templar at April 29, 2004 at 09:19 AM