MEDIA RELEASE - FIFIELD NOT FIT MINISTER FOR OUR ABC - 28 SEPTEMBER 2018

Scott Morrison needs to act and move Senator Mitch Fifield out of the role of Minister for Communications, with Fifield’s fingerprints all over the political interference scandal at the ABC. Senator Mitch Fifield’s role as minister responsible for the ABC is untenable.

According to reports, Minister Fifield was present at the meeting with Malcolm Turnbull and Justin Milne which prompted the former ABC Chairman to ring former Managing Director Michelle Guthrie and demand the sacking of an ABC journalist.
 
Minister Fifield has not denied he was present at the meeting, which reportedly left the ABC Chair with the impression a journalist needed to be sacked in order for the ABC to receive government funding.
 
While Minister Fifield has released a statement denying involvement in staffing matters, it is apparent that Justin Milne was influenced by his meeting with Turnbull and Fifield.
 
It is the role of the Minister for Communications to act as custodian of the ABC, not as a conduit for Liberal Government interference.
 
Minister Fifield’s attendance at the meeting that left the ABC Chairman with the impression that an ABC journalist needed to be sacked cannot possibly be consistent with his role as Minister for Communications.
 
Yesterday Justin Milne resigned his role as ABC Chairman over this political interference scandal, and it is incumbent upon Senator Fifield to now do the same.
 
Mitch Fifield has a long record of attacking and undermining the ABC:

  • He is a card-carrying member of the Institute for Public Affairs (IPA) which advocates that the ABC be ‘broken up’ and privatised
  • He has made a private donation to the IPA, as revealed by answers to Questions on Notice
  • He addressed the Australian Adam Smith Club in October 2008 stating: “Conservatives have often floated the prospect of privatising the ABC and Australia Post. There is merit in such proposals.”
  • He was rebuked by former ABC Chairman Jim Spigelman in November 2016 for attempting to influence ABC internal staffing policies
  • He used the ABC as a bargaining chip in a deal with One Nation in August 2017
  • He is a serial complainant to the ABC on everything from the date of the Hottest 100 to the content of comedy sketches
  • He is behind the budget cuts, three bills and two inquiries that form part of the Liberal Government’s latest rounds of attacks on the ABC. 

The ABC doesn’t belong to the Liberals and Mitch Fifield – it belongs to the Australian public.
 
Fifield must resign or be removed from the role of Minister for Communications before he does any more damage to Australia’s national treasure, the ABC.