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Has Alston got what it takes?

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Senator for New South Wales

Australian Democrats Whip



27 May 1998






The Australian Democrats questioned the suitability of Senator Richard Alst on for the job of Minister for Communications.


Senator Vicki Bourne, Communications Spokesperson for the Democrats, said:


“Senator Alston seems obsessed with destroying the ABC. His latest attempt to interfere in the independence of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and his failure to defend the ABC against Jeff Kennett’s ABC inquiry, raise the serious possibility that he just isn’t up to the job.


“Senator Alston’s time would be more constructively spent today defending the ABC against Mr Kennett’s opportunistic inquiry into ‘Sydney-centric” approach to arts programming, instead of harassing the ABC Board about alleged bias in its coverage of the waterfront dispute.


“There is a surreal, Catch 22 -like quality about yesterday’s events: first the Coalition drastically reduces ABC funding, then it blames it for the inevitable consequences of those cutbacks.


“The ABC should not be treated like a political football whose sole reason for existence is to be kicked by assorted Coalition governments,


“Jeff Kennett is well aware that the ABC is a national organisation, which is not and never has been under the jurisdiction of the Victorian Government. He is also well aware that ABC programming changes are a direct result of the Coalition’s vicious and unprecedented cutbacks to funding.


“If the Premier is genuinely concerned about the provision of ABC programs in his State rather than setting up a kangaroo court, a more honest and useful approach would be to lobby his Coalition colleague Senator Alston to reverse his draconian cutbacks.


“There is a depressing consistency in the Minister’s approach to the ABC. He is responsible for the most concerted Ministerial campaign against the ABC in its long history. It is certain that nobody could ever accuse him of detachment or a pro-ABC bias - he never misses an opportunity to stick the knife in.


“These obsessive attacks on the ABC leave him open to the accusation of a gross and wilful dereliction of Ministerial responsibility towards the ABC.”


Contact Senator Bourne: 02 6277 3820 W or 02 6297 3830


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