Following on from yesterday’s claims from Indigenous leader Noel Pearson that the ABC is “miserable”, “racist” and a perpetrator of the “soft bigotry of low expectations”, former ABC chairman Maurice Newman has come out in support of Pearson’s statements.
According to an exclusive report from The Australian by journalists Darren Davidson, Stephen Fitzpatrick and Rosie Lewis, Newman has gone out on a limb and said it’s not just the ABC that’s the perpetrator, but in fact SBS, Fairfax Media, The Guardian and Crikey are all committing the same offences.
Newman told The Oz, “It’s not just the ABC, it’s the left media, it’s the commentariat, it’s the elites who feel morally superior and think simply by throwing money at people that somehow or other they’re going to be cared for.
“They have constantly condemned anything which suggests that the Aboriginal people should be self-supporting, self-reliant and should have property rights like everyone else, rather than community ownership.”
Newman singled out the publications that dominate “so much of the national conversation”, identifying to The Oz “Fairfax Media, the ABC, The Guardian, SBS and Crikey” as all harmful to the image of Aboriginal people in Australia.
“Noel Pearson is a very measured, sensible person who has the interests of Aboriginal people very much at heart,” he told The Oz, adding that Pearson would be vilified for his views by the very people who make a living from the plights of Aboriginal Australians.
Newman was chairman of the ABC until 2012, when he was succeeded by current ABC chairman Jim Spigelman.
This follows recent comments from the leader of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, Warren Mundine, who supported Pearson’s roast of the national broadcaster, where he said they “wouldn’t have a job” if it wasn’t for the Aboriginal issues they report on.
But speaking to The Australian, Mundine admitted Pearson’s language went a bit too far in his attack on the ABC, adding, “There is no doubt the left media do play up to this sad story about Aboriginal people. There are around 10,000 Aboriginal people in jail and more than 600,000 of us who are not, so it can’t be that we’re all downtrodden by colonisation.”
In addition, Labor MP Linda Burney, the first Aboriginal woman elected to the House of Reps, was reported saying that while racism does occasionally “infect some of the reportage of Aboriginal issues” – with examples like Bill Leak’s controversial cartoon being one prime example – the ABC was not racist.
“To say that the ABC is racist, and with such vitriol, is quite baffling to me,” Burney told The Oz.
“In fact, the ABC has some of the most comprehensive coverage of indigenous affairs, along with The Australian, in the country.”
Per reports from The Oz, Greens leader Richard Di Natale also said he did not think the ABC had been “complicit” in a string of governments “falling well short” on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues.