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Why can't Liberal Party sympathisers get jobs in the ABC?

Some critics of the ABC suggest that the fact that a number of high profile ABC journalists and broadcasters have worked as media advisers for the Labor Party proves that the ABC is biased against the coalition parties.  In May 2002 influential Liberal Party figure Michael Kroger, in a letter to the Age, suggested that it was not possible for a Liberal sympathiser to hold down an ABC presenter’s position.

It is certainly true that both Kerry O’Brien and Barry Cassidy worked as media advisers for the ALP.  It is also true that David Hill stood for parliament as an ALP candidate after he left the ABC.  Moreover Bob Carr, former Labor Premier of NSW, once worked for the ABC as a current affairs journalist.

While these facts might give some hint as to the political sympathies of those concerned, it does not establish that any of them were biased in the way in which they carried out their duties.

It is also true that despite Michael Kroger’s assertions,  a significant number of  ABC staff have had  Coalition connections.  For example:

  • Gary Hardgrave, a former minister in the Howard government, is a former journalist with the Brisbane bureau of the ABC's 7.30 Report.
  • Peter Collins, Leader of the Liberal Party in NSW for several years, was also a former ABC TV journalist.
  • Peter McArthur, a former current affairs reporter and TV newsreader for the ABC served several years in the Victorian parliament as a Liberal member.
  • Bruce Webster was a sports broadcaster for the ABC and later the Liberal member for Pittwater in the NSW parliament.
  • Jim Bonner, after leaving the staff of Malcolm Fraser, held senior editorial positions with ABC radio and television in Canberra and Adelaide.  He later resumed his connection with the Liberal Party when he assumed the position of Director of the Liberal Party in South Australia.
  • Pru Goward, a Canberra based high profile ABC journalist reported on federal politics for a number of years.  She is now the Liberal member for Goulburn in the NSW parliament.
  • Cathy Job, a current affairs presenter for ABC radio in Brisbane became a media adviser to David Kemp after resigning from the ABC.
  • Vicki Thompson, a senior political reporter for ABC radio in Adelaide became Chief of Staff for John Olsen, Liberal Premier of South Australia.
  • Ian Cover, a member of the ABC’s Coodabeen Champions crew, served as a Liberal member of the Victorian Parliament between 1996 and 2002. (Note: the Coodabeens focus was on sport rather than politics).
  • Rob Messenger was ABC radio broadcaster in Bundaberg.  He is now the National Party member for Burnett in the Queensland parliament.
  • Grant Woodhams,  National Party member for Greenough in WA worked with ABC radio in Tasmania, South Australia, NSW and Victoria.
  • Ken Cooke, State Director of the National Party for 13 years, and a close associate of Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen, was an ABC journalist before taking up his position with the National Party.
  • Chris Nicholls, an Adelaide ABC journalist, broke a story revealing that Barbare Wiese, a minister in the Bannon Labor government in South  Australia, was involved in a conflict of interest. He was accused of improperly obtaining details of Weise's financial affairs, but was acquitted. Nicholls, and his story, were defended by the ABC's News Editor, and the ABC State Manager.  Some time later he left the ABC to work for Liberal Senator, Grant Chapman.
  • Eoin Cameron,the former Liberal member for the federal seat of Stirling, presents the breakfast program on ABC local radio in Perth.  He is a popular and respected broadcaster.
  • Cameron Thompson worked for the ABC in Longreach and Darwin before winning the seat of Blair for the Liberal Party.
  • The current State Director of the ABC in Queensland, Chris Wordsworth, is a former press officer for one time Liberal Defence Minister John Moore.

    Darce Cassidy February 2007


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