The Liberal Party has a great supporter in the Murdoch media, via Andrew Bolt and Sophie Elsworth, who have published articles in the Herald Sun and AFR backing opposition leader Peter Dutton when he attacked the ABC.
Elsworth in February wrote an article that supported Dutton’s call that ‘ABC Chair Ita Buttrose must “step in” immediately to address the unbalanced reporting, because the public broadcaster is losing “credibility”, adding Australians wanted “independence from their public broadcaster”’. The call was prompted by ABC reports which claimed that displays of “white supremacy” were evident at a community meeting in Alice Springs.
Similarly, Elsworth took delight recently in quoting ex-BBC Andrew Neil’s assertion that Q&A’s discussion on The Voice was unbalanced in favour of the Yes campaign. Whilst happily referring to Neil’s 25 years at the BBC, her article did not mention that Neil worked for the Tory Conservative Party in the 1970’s and was personally selected by Rupert Murdoch as editor of the Sunday Times in the ‘80’s. In 1988 Neil became founding Chairman for Sky TV, part of Murdoch’s News Corp, and is chairman of the Press Holdings title The Spectator, a magazine with tight associations with the conservative side of politics.
Most recently Dutton made unsubstantiated claims about sexual assault on indigenous children during a two day fly in visit to Alice Springs, during which he repeated claims that sexual abuse was occurring around Alice Springs and not being addressed.
Dutton’s claims have since been broadly criticised and labelled as ‘political opportunism’.
"[Police and social workers] have kids taking them back into homes where they've been sexually assaulted and six-year-olds grabbing onto their legs begging not to be left there," Mr Dutton said.
Responding to Mr Dutton's comments, Northern Territory Police Minister Kate Worden said he should report the claims.
"I'll remind Mr Dutton we have mandatory reporting for child sexual abuse in the Northern Territory" she said.
"If Mr Dutton has evidence of these claims that he's made around child sexual abuse in Alice Springs, he needs to come forward."
Dutton did not come forward with any evidence to support his claims.
When asked if he had spoken to Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation, he said instead that he had spoken with businesses and shoppers in shopping centres.
Worden went further, "What we've seen over the last couple of days from Peter Dutton in Central Australia is absolutely opportunistic, political game playing, and using the most vulnerable people here in the heart of our nation in Central Australia as a pawn in that game," she said.
"It's quite frankly a dog act."
The chief executive of the secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), Catherine Liddle, responded to Dutton’s comments "I'm beyond frustrated, and it's really disappointing that someone in a leadership position can stand up and say the same things over and over again.
"What we definitely have not seen in the evidence, and [in] the data, is an increase in child sexual abuse."
Faced with such high-level criticism Dutton turned again to attack the ABC, a proven distraction tactic when under fire.
When an ABC journalist asked Dutton ‘I'm asking you what data you're using to support your claims here,' Dutton ridiculed the journalist. 'With respect, that's such an ABC question,' a bemused Mr Dutton replied, later adding that the reporter wasn't doing his job properly.
The Murdoch media again backed in Dutton and accused the ABC of failing in its test of impartiality.
Sounds a bit like the pot calling the kettle black.
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