ABC grilled over ‘fascist’ tweets

The ABC boss has been grilled over staff tweets and the reporting of a rape allegation against the Attorney-General that he said was of the ‘highest quality’.

The boss of the ABC says he will look into tweets allegedly posted by a lawyer for the organisation describing the Morrison government as “fascist”.

The broadcaster’s managing director David Anderson was also grilled during Senate estimates about a tweet by comedian and presenter Julia Zemiro that stated: “Peter Dutton you continue to disgrace.”

ABC lawyer Sebastien Maury is accused of posting the disparaging tweets against the Coalition.

According to The Australian, he also called the Prime Minister an “awful human being”.

Mr Anderson was asked about the “fascist” tweet on Tuesday.

“I’m disappointed to hear that as I was walking in here today and I’ll be looking into it,” he said.

Mr Anderson faced questions from Coalition members about the appropriateness of politically-charged tweets by ABC employees.

Senator Andrew Bragg also raised Zemiro’s social media post.

“Where is the line between what the ABC will stand behind in a program and a journalist’s social media profile?” he asked.

Mr Anderson responded that it was difficult to hold contractors, such as Zemiro, to account when they were outside the employ of the ABC.

He said the organisation’s employment agreement code of conduct included use of social media, and failure to comply could be considered misconduct and lead to termination.


Mr Anderson also defended the ABC’s reporting on a historical rape allegation concerning Attorney-General Christian Porter, which the cabinet minister has vigorously denied.

Mr Porter is now suing the ABC in the Federal Court for defamation and Mr Anderson told Senate estimates he was limited in what he could say about the reporting.

“Given that the Attorney-General has now commenced proceedings against the ABC, I hope you will all appreciate there are limits on what I can discuss in relation to matters that have been put in dispute in those proceedings,” he said.

The ABC broke the story about a letter concerning the historic rape allegation sent to senior federal politicians last month.

It did not identify the cabinet minister mentioned, but two days later, Mr Porter revealed the allegation was about him.

The story was revisited on March 8 in a Four Corners episode, which Mr Anderson said placed equal emphasis on Mr Porter’s categorical denial and the untested allegation.

Mr Anderson said the ABC reporting on Mr Porter was impartial, in the public interest and the journalism was of the “highest quality”.

“We will defend the case and our reporting, which we believe is in the public interest,” he said.

Mr Anderson said he was “always worried” about federal funding cuts to the ABC but he didn’t expect reprisals.

“I put my faith in the government there’ll be no reprisals back to the ABC,” he said.

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