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Wednesday, 24 May 2006
Page: 138


Mr KATTER (7:27 PM) —I rise to speak on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Amendment Bill 2006. I personally have suffered greatly at the hands of the ABC. In finding what was called the ‘crooked creek cattle company’ in North Queensland, some 18 people gave evidence about it. Of those 18, six were dead within two or three years and the remaining 12 were put up on trumped up charges of one type or another. The Queensland Commissioner of Police and I were included in the 18 and, at that stage, I was a senior minister in the government. It was the very courageous actions of Steve Austin, an ABC journalist who has covered the Drive show in recent years, who exposed the situation.

For reasons that I do not entirely understand, it has been the tradition and culture of the ABC to show great courage at times and to do things that are very important for Australia. For those who have read the story of Kokoda, Chester Wilmot exposed what was going on at Kokoda and received terrible treatment by the Australian government and the Army. The militia battalions saved Australia on the Kokoda trail. Chester Wilmot had all of his reporting confiscated by the Army and the government of the day. But it was not the fault of Chester Wilmot or the ABC. They made strenuous efforts to try to protect Australia.

One of the reasons given by the government is that this sort of thing is normal in a corporation. But the government is not running a corporation; it is running a country. It is assessing the values of such a system to the country if the country requires a free and unfettered media. In one article I read recently, two corporations—Woolworths and Coles—are responsible for 27c of every Australian dollar spent. If we eliminated the ABC, we could save the trouble of having an election. We could just ring up Coles and Woolworths and let them decide who they want to appoint as Prime Minister of Australia, because their powers would be so great and excessive.

Debate interrupted.