The ABC's failed complaints system

24 Aug 2021 speech

Ms FLINT (Boothby—Government Whip) (13:38): I think we have all had enough of reading report after report about the ABC's failed complaints handling processes. Today the Australian newspaper's Sophie Elsworth revealed yet another highly questionable handling of a complaint. The complaint alleged a serious breach of confidence by reporter Louise Milligan that was investigated not by the ABC's allegedly independent audience and consumer affairs department but by Milligan's executive producer, Sally Neighbour. The same Louise Milligan has now cost Australian taxpayers and the ABC approximately $1 million in legal fees, costs and settlements this year alone through defamation matters brought by the minister for industry and the member for Bowman.

Unfortunately, I have also experienced the vagaries of the ABC's allegedly independent complaints system, with five complaints handled by three different people in two different departments and one complaint that may or may not have been handled by the managing director himself; his letter to me said he could not comment on the details of the outcome of my complaint about ABC Radio's Jonathan Green over a series of extremely rude, disparaging and sexist tweets targeting the Prime Minister's wife, Mrs Jenny Morrison. I would be fascinated to learn of the outcomes of complaints by former senator Cory Bernardi and former Labor Treasurer John Dawkins, who were the subject of serious allegations in Annabel Crabb's recent TV show Ms Represented which were not put to them before they were broadcast so that they could utterly refute the allegations made. I welcome the statements by those opposite that the ABC should have independent complaints handling. Let's work together to make this happen.