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Howard disagrees with ABC privatisation push

Luke Grant
Article image for Howard disagrees with ABC privatisation push

Former Prime Minister John Howard has dismissed calls to privatise the ABC.

Though his party’s membership last month voted for the public broadcaster to be privatised and sold off, Howard says it is best for the ABC to remain in public hands. Though the organisation needs more balance, privatisation or abolishing the broadcaster is not the way to correct  ideological bias, according to Howard.

Professor Sinclair Davidson isn’t on the same page. He says all the go-to justifications for a public broadcaster have elapsed.

“The argument normally goes that we need to have an independent broadcaster that can keep the world safe for democracy and isn’t beholden to commercial interests,” Davidson explains.

“But we don’t actually have one of those. We have a very large organisation that is off on a frolic of its own.”

According to Davidson, the public broadcaster has gone beyond providing what is commercially unviable for the private sector. Instead, private companies are being challenged at their own game by the ABC, offending the idea of competitive neutrality. This principle suggests government entities should not gain an unfair advantage in the marketplace because of their government ownership.

“It’s incredibly unfair,” says Davidson.

“It actually crowds out the private sector and makes it harder for the private sector to do its job.”

 “The whole notion that we need an ABC to fill gaps is just not true anymore. We have a massive diversity of voices providing all sorts of options.”

Click PLAY below for the full interview

Luke Grant