Thursday, November 03, 2005

Dummy Spit of the Week

Senator SANTORO—I would appreciate it if you could, from this point onwards, just give actual answers to the questions. I put you and the ABC on notice: I am not going to desist from the way that I go about questioning the ABC. All you are doing is aggravating me and other senators. We will just keep on coming. If I have to go to the government and ask for a special inquiry into bias at the ABC, I will do that. I am not at all impressed by Mr Balding’s absence. I understand his attendance had been previously notified to the committee, and it was withdrawn late last Friday afternoon. You can all sit there and look as sanctimonious, as serious or—like a couple of the officers behind you—as lacking in seriousness as you want to, but I am telling you that I am not at all impressed by the absence of Mr Balding. I have 2½ thousand pages of transcripts, because every time I ask a question he says that he has to check the record, and when he does check the record I get nonsense for an answer in the vast majority of cases.

Some of us actually take our jobs very seriously. There are about 28 people in Australia monitoring what the ABC does. I receive between 15 and 20 tapes a week, and out of that we get transcripts. We are absolutely, deadly serious, some senators—I would suggest most senators—in that we want to go about making the ABC accountable. A simple statement of ‘The ABC is the most accountable media organisation,’ does not wash with me, because we as a parliament have given you about $1.2 billion of public funds. The lack of accountability as a result of Mr Balding’s absence from here today is certainly not appreciated by me.

Santo the Magnificent in the Senate Estimates Committee Hearing into the ABC, 31 October 2005.

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