ABC Media Watch last night ran a segment deriding Dick Smith for claiming that The ABC is biased on the population (immigration) debate and is disinterested in airing dissenting views that running a mass immigration scheme more than twice as large as the historical average might actually be bad for the nation and living standards.
Below are some highlights from the segment via the transcript (watch full video above):
Completely biased. So how is that showing?
Well, according to Dick Smith, because the ABC hasn’t given enough attention to his recent million-dollar ad campaign, based on the Grim Reaper, questioning whether population growth is good for us…
Dick Smith’s a master of getting his message across and the fact that he was spending his own money helped bring him heaps of coverage on commercial TV…
Dick’s campaign was also well-covered by ABC Radio, including The World Today, ABC News, and Triple J Hack, which devoted thirteen minutes to the subject and had him on the program…
Nor is it true that the ABC has ignored his views on population growth.
In 2010 the ABC commissioned a documentary called “Dick Smith’s Population Puzzle”, which was followed by a Q&A special, hosted by Tony Jones to discuss his ideas.
However, that was years ago. So, when ABC TV’s The Drum last week got around to covering his latest campaign you’d think he would be thrilled.
Yet it only made him madder, because Dick wasn’t asked to appear on the program and claims it was ‘full of lies’…
Scared perhaps, or possibly – bored.
And while it might be fair to say the ABC could give more coverage to the dangers or benefits of population growth, we reckon that Dick gets more than his fair share of publicity from everyone.
But as for accusing the ABC of treason. Well, frankly Dick, that is ridiculous.
A few points:
- The ABC has done a few television segments recently covering the population (immigration) issue, but all have been biased in favour of current mass immigration ‘Big Australia’ settings. Examples include bully boy Stan Grant, The Drum on two separate occasions (here and here), and Q&A (see here).
- ABC Lateline’s recent special on housing affordability also refused to mention excessive population growth (immigration) as a factor, despite me talking about it extensively in an interview for the segment, which was left on the cutting room floor. The same happened to other participants in the Four Corners special.
- MB’s own extensive ABC TV sources reveal that the bias is very real.
- It has been less prevalent on other platforms, with ABC’s television arm by far the worst.
- With regards to this Media Watch segment, Barry has abandoned the standards that he normally holds other journalists to. Barry made no attempt to deal with the relevant issues. He did not, for instance, attempt to argue that the amount of space that ABC TV news programs devote to Australia’s extraordinary rate of population growth (where we are growing at a rate that would be high even in the Third World) is in proportion with this issue’s importance. Much less did Barry offer evidence or statistics to show that the ABC gives fair or equal space to critics of these very high population growth rates or of the very high immigration rates that drive this growth.
- Nor did Barry answer the points made by Ross Gittins, Bob Brown, Richard Denniss and Laura Tingle about the need for commentators to stop pretending that high immigration offers any clear net benefits for Australia.
- Instead, Barry launched an ad hominem attack on Dick Smith, presenting him as an attention seeker. Obviously, Barry thought attack was the ABC’s best method of defence.
- He claimed Dick was unreasonably aggrieved at not having his point of view represented on ABC’s program The Drum (where a group of population growth advocates was recently lined up to belittle Dick’s case, with some making misleading statements about him supporting Pauline Hanson). Yet, if they did not want Dick on their panel, why did they not ask Ross Gittins or Bob Carr or Tim Flannery or Judith Sloan or Richard Denniss or me? Why only pro-growth panellists?
- The nearest Barry came to a defence of the ABC was in pointing out that back in 2010 (7 whole years ago) the ABC did run a documentary on population called (indeed) Dick Smith’s Population Puzzle followed by a debate on Q&A. However, he also failed to mention that the ABC stacked the Q&A panel with pro-growth lobbyists like Tony Shepherd, John Elliott and a pro-growth mayor – hardly allowing for a balanced debate.
Dick Smith is right to be angry at The ABC. Its television arm, at least, has never provided adequate or balanced coverage of Australia’s population debate and the sneering that greets every attempt to point this out is a dead giveaway of group think.