News & Current Affairs
24 November 2014
by John Passant
Strike to defend the ABC and SBS
In my view, the ABC is not ‘our’ ABC, nor is it ‘our beloved’ ABC. It certainly isn’t an ‘impartial’ ABC. It is up to its armpits in defending capitalism. Sometimes it questions aspects of capitalism, but more often it seems to be pushing a conservative agenda.
It was the ABC whose reporting gave John Howard the ammunition for the Northern Territory intervention, a racist action of the highest order aimed at further de-humanising indigenous people and driving them off their land.
I think Chomsky captures the spirit of this very well in this comment which has become a Facebook meme.
The ABC represents and presents that narrow spectrum in Australia, a spectrum best described as the battle between two versions of neoliberalism. Nowhere is this more obvious than in Tony Jones’ dismissive reaction to the student protesters on Q&A and eventually cutting them off. We need more protesters and less Tony Jones on ‘our’ ABC.
On the evening before the election last year Abbott said there would be no cuts to the ABC or SBS (and none to health and education and no changes to pensions or the GST). Of course Abbott lied to us. And now his idiot front bench think the best way to get around this is to argue that these aren’t cuts, they are efficiency dividends. Do they really think we are that stupid? They are compounding the lie with another one and that will only make many Australians even angrier.
The real question is how can we defend the ABC and SBS, and in doing that break out of the neoliberal spectrum of of acceptable opinion. Waiting another 2 years to vote out these barbarians allows them 22 more months to recreate Australia in their small minded, racist, sexist, profit before everything, let the market rule and the devil take the hindmost image.
There is deep community anger about this attack on the ABC and SBS, and rightly so. The ABC provides services to many Australians that the for-profits would never consider. It is the backbone of many regional and rural communities, an important lifeline for them. SBS provides a level of international and non-anglo community reporting that helps enrich our nation and supports the communities of difference.
How then can we defend the ABC and SBS? How can we defend the jobs, the work-life balance of the remaining workers and the ability to deliver some quality programs from time to time instead of the shit dished up on the commercial channels?
There is only one way. The two main unions, the Media Arts and Entertainment Alliance and the Community and Public Sector Union have to call their members out on strike until the government backs down. The unions would have mass support if they did this. The ACTU and individual unions have to pledge that if any action is taken against these ‘illegal’ strikes under bourgeois law then members in other unions will walk off the job. This is the only way to stop Abbott and Turnbull, and in doing that we open up the possibility of a more democratic and popular ABC and SBS reflecting the views of a population which is far to the left of the major political parties on most issues.
In defending the ABC and SBS we have the chance to reclaim them.