Complaints against ABC

Last June the ABC Complaints division, which is said to reject 97% of all complaints, upheld a complaint by Julian Holland against ABC Radio over successive news bulletins on Classic FM on 27 June.
These bulletins had misrepresented Aaron Gadiel's quaintly named "Urban Task Force" as an urban planning group, rather than as a propaganda unit run by some of Australia's biggest developers.  (This should not have been a difficult finding to reach, since the "Task Force's" website is explicit about its aims.)  The finding is reproduced below. It was supposedly circulated to all relevant sections of the ABC.

Yet last night, 18 October 2010, Gadiel got ABC TV News to run, without critical comment or alternative point of view, a highly partisan "report" of his, in which he claimed that skilled migration needed to be ramped up because of a shortage of skilled workers.

The obvious counter points were not mentioned: that Australia's real problem is not lack of workers but lack of jobs, granted we have high unemployment (officially 6.5%), high disguised unemployment, and high underemployment (people wanting full time work, but unable to get more than part-time). Also, that Australia's bizarrely high skilled immigration rate "reduces wage inflation" (in plain English, holds down skilled wages) causing many young Australians either not to invest in skills training or to take their skills overseas, where employers are more willing to pay the market rate for skilled labour.  Also that the infrastructure costs of the extra persons imported greatly exceed the cost of paying enough to employ/train our own people.Also that employers always complain they can't get enough (and good enough) skilled workers for the money they want to pay them, just as predictably as workers complain there aren't enough good jobs. Trying to fix this imaginary problem, only impoverishes everyone except employers and those with vested interests in population growth, like the developers Gadiel works for. 

Not only was no alternative viewpoint provided, e.g. from a unionist, but a  person from another pro-growth organisation was the only other interviewee. Clearly the reporter was so uncritical as not even to see this as a debate where knowledgable representatives from each side should be heard.

I don't have time to chase up the transcript and lodge a complaint -- I spent today clearing space for the arrival of the 4th edition of Overloading Australia  -- but I hope someone else will find time to do so, and also to copy the complaint to Media Watch.

> However, Audience and Consumer Affairs do agree that the broadcasts that
> featured comments from Urban Taskforce Australia failed to provide
> sufficient context to describe the organisation. As you point out, the
> group represents the property development industry. While the ABC's
> Editorial Policies advise journalists to be cautious of labelling
> organisations, we believe that the nature of the organisation should
> have been made clear in the reports. Accordingly, we have found the
> broadcasts in breach of section 5.2.2(c) of the ABC's Editorial
> Policies.

Mark O'Connor         Email:
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