Now Jason Clare writes to ABC over Nick Ross ‘gag’


news Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare has stated that he is “very concerned” about claims that the ABC gagged its former technology editor from reporting on the NBN, and has joined his Victorian counterpart Philip Dalidakis in demanding answers from ABC managing director Mark.

Over the past several weeks, Ross has made a number of public statements through sites such as Reddit, New Matilda and PC & Tech Authority claiming that the ABC prevented him from publishing articles critical of the Coalition’s controversial National Broadband Network policy.

Ross served as the broadcaster’s editor of its Technology & Games sub-site from 2010 before resigning his position several weeks ago. 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 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.

Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare was asked about the issue in an interview wit Bendigo IPTV posted online last week (we recommend you watch the full interview here). The interview was first highlighted by New Matilda.

In the interview, Clare said he was “very concerned” about the allegations of a gag.

“I’ve read all of the articles that have been published recently about this, as well as looking at the transcript of the taped conversations that took place in the ABC, he said. “I’m concerned about references to not publishing articles because of the response that the ABC would get from “the Turnbull camp”.”

“I’m very concerned that editorial decisions inside the ABC might be affected by the views of one political party, the Shadow Minister in that case, for Communications.”

Clare said it was important that editorial decisions were made “independently by the ABC” and not affected by the views of politicians.

“I’ve written to the head of the ABC, Mark Scott, asking for answers to those questions,” Clare added, “because it’s very, very important that people have trust in the ABC and know that the decisions about what they publish and what they broadcast are not affected by the views of one politician or one political party.”

Delimiter has contacted Clare’s office requesting that the full text of the letter be released, and will also seek the full text via Freedom of Information laws.

Clare’s letter represents the second time over the past several weeks that a senior Labor figure has written to Scott regarding the issue.

Last week Victoria’s Innovation Minister Philip Dalidakis confirmed he had written to Scott requesting a meeting and internal investigation regarding what he described as “grave allegations” that the broadcaster had gagged Ross from reporting on the National Broadband Network.

You can read the full text of Dalidakis’ letter online here in PDF format.

Image credit: Parliamentary Broadcasting


  1. Maybe there should be an external independent inquiry done. Seems a veteran journalist has become available of late. Maybe Turnbull could arrange for Andrew Bolt to head it up, of course expert assistance could be provided by the likes of Graham Lynch and his circle of expert commentators.

    (Waits for Poe’s law responses)

    • Im sure Kevin Morgan would also make himself available to “scrutinise” the ABC’s work.

  2. Can you please put this rag in your mouth?
    We didn’t gag him.. He gagged himself silly :)

  3. We didn’t gag him, we just tied both hands behind his back so he couldn’t type…..

    • Oh bullshit. He was advised to write some articles that explored the problem with Labor’s NBN rollout. And between the POI fiasco, the ridiculous CVC pricing, and the delayed rollout that concentrated on regional areas rather than capital cities it most certainly was not a difficult or unwarranted thing to do.

      • Which he’d already done … while the ALP where in power!

        The new stories he was being asked to write where beat-ups, pure and simple!

      • No, he wasn’t advised, he was told he couldn’t publish any other NBN articles until he did. “You can only write about this if we like what you write” is close enough to gagging that it may as well be called it.

      • “Oh bullshit. He was advised to write some articles that explored the problem with Labor’s NBN rollout.”
        Oh bullshit indeed. He was actively told that he can’t write factual articles and instead had to write something about problems with Labors’ rollout. For a man without principles, I can see how this does not equate to being censored in your eyes…

        “concentrated on regional areas rather than capital cities”

  4. Journalism, it seems to me, is a profession that covers two main functions.

    The first, the one that we are probably most familiar with, is reporting, wherein the reporter tells us what has happened. This is what fills most column-inches, or online pages.

    The second one is that of analysis. Here, the reporter tells us what the facts MEAN. You’d expect the journalist to use their experience and research to compare different sides of a story, and assess and judge the competing claims. This sort of journalism is what you usually find in newspaper editorials, or sites like ABC’s “The Drum”. Such content is often, though not always, flagged as “opinion”. Renai, for example, clearly distinguishes between reporting and opinion/analysis in his article.

    Now, if Nick Ross was in a position called “Editor”, then I’d expect that his output would contain a lot of analysis; after all, any journalist can report. I’d expect him to look at the competing NBN schemes, and compare and weigh their individual features.

    Well, colour me surprised, but that’s just what he did. He gave us articles which were comprehensive (almost exhaustively so) and copiously referenced. At no time, as far as I can see, did he say “Just trust me”. Instead, he said, “This is what I conclude because …”. Anyone who disagreed was more then welcome to try to disprove his logic, or his facts. Despite the, at times, shrill outrage from the Liberal Party, nobody, as far as I am aware, was able to demonstrate any significant errors in either.

    Now, if either Nick Ross’ supervisor at the ABC told him a) that he, Ross, an editor hired to analyse facts, was not allowed to provide analysis of events regarding his special topic, or b) that he had to present an analysis that he did not agree with, and that these restrictions were to avoid political heat, then I have trouble seeing this as other than interference with the normal operations of staff, and a significant lapse of journalistic standards.

  5. I think the problem is as has already been stated. Everything is seen through the lens of politics. Non-technical people really can’t understand that some issues are fact based. I want to trust the ABC to tell me the facts about something and all I get is he-said she-said. I don’t want that until after the facts have been laid out. Then I can see who’s spinning a line. It’s not just this issue either. The ABC has lost my trust.

  6. Wouldn’t it be nice if this lead to a Royal Commission investigating interference by ABC management of independent journalism by their reporters, but if it had enough scope to analyse the partisanship of ABC management generally and make recommendations as to restructuring the ABC in such a way as to ensure independence (ie sack LNP appointed senior staff and all their subsequent hires).

    Well, I can dream.

  7. I wouldn’t have thought Clare would have that much time on his hands to be involved with this issue, he and his advisers would have to be flat out formulating Labor Mk2 NBN policy to take into the election, the MtM policy they cannot call a MtM, after all the election can be called early as August.

    A going no where diversion from the real world issue he is facing I guess.

  8. the journalist had been warned to take the role of a “reporter”, rather than an “advocate”

    I think the main problem here is the politicisation of the entire NBN discussion it’s self.

    His article was so well researched and written, that the only way for Malcolm to get out of the facts presented by Nick was that he politicised the report as well.

    It’s worked very well…

  9. Great article Nick. I also think the journalist nailed it. Best bit of unbiased, factual investigative journalism I have seen in a long time. Unfortunately journalism seems to be emotive, shock, factless rubbish these days, so nice to see some quality journalism, even if it ruffles feathers. Shame more people didn’t read it. Unfortunately more than half the population believed the crap being sprouted from old Big Ears and Turncoat went for the ride. If he was truthful, I don’t even believe Malcolm believes FTTN is a good idea. History will show this backward thinking government up as vandals of the fibre network that should have been in place by 2020. Especially when we end up building it anyway in the not to distant future, just by then at double the expense by then plus the cost of this abortion. Soon we will have all the people that voted this govt in screaming because they can only get 10-15 Mbps if they are lucky when the rest of the world is streming 4k tv. “Oh but it’s ok we have wireless…….”. That seems to be the common theme from the uneducated on this. It will be not disimilar to the uproar for those stuck on dial up with pair gain technology when others were able to bet ADSL and ADSL 2+ techonolgy. What Malcolm is now doing is duplicating a nice new ADSL network on a couple of old pieces of string, at an exorbident price tag. This governments legacy will be seen as an old irrelevant legacy boys club, that tows the party line, gets nothing constructive done. This is true of every policy they have. Add marriage equlity and every other archaic thinking policy Tony….I mean Malcolm has. Time for some new relevant and forward thinking parties to start to emerge to replace these old cronies.

  10. I have read the journalist article, the Coalition MTM model has nothing whatever to fear from the content.

    • You’re right – because it’s spearheaded by corruption. If people are unwilling to open their eyes and (shock, horror) learn something then it will continue to steamroll this country into the abyss.

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