Andrew Probyn, who has recently been promoted to ABC’s political editor, has been accused of breaching journalistic codes by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
During a report on Tony Abbott, Probyn called the former prime minister “the most destructive politician of his generation”.
Probyn was reporting on Abbott’s attendance at a Climate Change event in London last year, and referred to Abbott’s statement that climate change is was “probably doing good; or at least, more good than harm”.
Now, ACMA has released a statement of its own on Probyn’s actions, calling his criticism of Abbott “declarative and not in keeping with the scope of the factual matters presented earlier in the report”.
The authority also called the statement judgemental.
“The impartiality provisions in the ABC’s own code require it to demonstrate balance and fair treatment when presenting news, and avoid conveying a prejudgment,” ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said.
Speaking to The Australian, Abbott congratulated ACMA on its stance.
“It’s encouraging that people can see through the bias and are inclined to complain,” he said.
“It’s also encouraging that ACMA can recognise what plainly was a statement of prejudice, rather than a form of objective reporting,” the former prime minister added.
Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has also come out in favour of ACMA.
Fifield publicly thanked ACMA for “doing its job as the independent umpire to ensure the ABC upholds its own editorial standards for balance and fair treatment”.
“The government has legislation before the parliament to enshrine in law the requirement for the ABC to be fair and balanced — something everyone assumes is already in the ABC Act,” he added.