news Victoria’s Innovation Minister has described the ABC’s treatment of its former technology editor Nick Ross as “appalling” and has expressed a desire to meet with the journalist and take his case directly to the managing director of the broadcaster.
Last week Ross made a number of public statements, including in an extensive question and answer ‘AMA’ session on Reddit, claiming that the ABC prevented him from publishing articles critical of the Coalition’s controversial National Broadband Network policy.
Ross had served as the broadcaster’s editor of its Technology & Games sub-site from 2010 before resigning his position last week. The journalist came under fire from other media outlets and political figures such as then-Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull in 2013, after he published a number of articles heavily critical of Turnbull’s rival NBN policy. He has published little on the subject since.
However, the ABC has denied it gagged Ross, telling BuzzFeed news last week that the journalist had been warned to take the role of a “reporter”, rather than an “advocate” and highlighting the ABC’s editorial policies. A spokesperson for the broadcaster added that Ross had been invited to contribute to the ABC’s business coverage, including on NBN issues, after the Technology & Games sub-site was scheduled to be shut down, but that Ross had declined.
Over the weekend, Victorian Minister for Small Business, Innovation & Trade in the state’s Labor Government Philip Dalidakis publicly expressed his support for Ross and noted that he would take the journalist’s case to the highest levels of the ABC.
— Philip Dalidakis MP (@philipdalidakis) January 15, 2016
“… his treatment was appalling and at odds with how our ABC should behave, and I think Federal Labor have defended [Nick Ross] before,” wrote Dalidakis in a long series of posts on Twitter. “We are all taxpayers and the ABC is not immune from questions about their ethics just because I’m a state MP.”
Dalidakis has also offered to attempt to intervene with Twitter to attempt to get the ‘blue tick’ verification symbol reinstated to Ross’s account. It appears the symbol had been lost after Ross changed his Twitter handle following his departure from the ABC.
Dalidakis said he did not doubt that there had been intervention on the issue by Sally Cray, a political staffer who had served the ABC in a public relations role during a portion of the time when Ross’s 2013 articles came to public attention. Cray was previously a staffer to Malcolm Turnbull before her stint at the ABC, and returned to work for the Member for Wentworth following the September 2013 Federal Election.
Cray is now a senior advisor to Turnbull in his new role as Prime Minister.
Dalidakis also launched an attack on the controversial Multi-Technology Mix policy which the Coalition has enacted at the NBN company, which saw Labor’s near-universal Fibre to the Premises model for the NBN significantly watered down through the application of rival Fibre to the Node and HFC cable technologies.
“From a policy point of view, [Malcolm Turnbull’s] NBN MTM is now a scrambled egg and has taken Australian innovation back 20 years,” the Minister wrote on Twitter.
“Stating the obvious and calling Turnbull out about what [Fibre to the Node] can do isn’t choosing sides. It’s reporting fact. I think you’ll find the people extolling FTTN were either making $ or Liberals.”
The Minister described those pushing the MTM version of the NBN as “Luddites”. “There is no favouring one party’s policy,” he added. “FTTP is so superior to FTTN it’s like comparing a moped to a Ferrari. It appears the ABC were deliberately under-reporting the NBN & LNP policy flaws.”
Dalidakis pointed out that under the NBN company’s initial modelling, the NBN project would have made a greater than 7 percent return on its investment for the project. “It made money. Positive Return on Investment. Seriously,” he said. “Turnbull has revised the FTTN cost up twice & lied about the FTTP cost. But Nick wasn’t allowed to report that!”
“Turnbull made up the cost. Labor said so at the time. The media didn’t report it and Nick wasn’t allowed.”
Delimiter recommends readers read the comprehensive Reddit AMA which Ross conducted last week, as well as his Twitter stream, to see the journalists’ full view on the situation and his experience at the ABC.
Image credit: Office of Philip Dalidakis