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ABC says relationship with government strained

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The ABC describes its relationship with federal government as strained as a Liberal backbencher spearheads a parliamentary probe into the public broadcaster’s complaints process.

NSW senator Andrew Bragg is concerned complaints to the ABC are not being addressed seriously and has announced a Senate inquiry into its processes and those of the SBS.

ABC chair Ita Buttrose describes the national broadcaster’s relationship with the government as strained and says “it’s a matter that concerns me very much”.

“I wish we had a much better relationship with the government,” she told ABC radio on Monday.

“It’s a fact that the ABC causes all governments, at some time or another, to complain about one of our stories or something that we’ve done.

“We do look at powerful people, we do investigate situations and sometimes there are situations where people wish we wouldn’t go.”

Ms Buttrose wants the Senate inquiry scrapped or at least put on hold until an ABC-commissioned independent review of its complaints process is completed.

“It would be much better if the government and the national broadcaster had a better relationship,” she said.

“We are not the enemy. We’re easily accessible. I’ve said to politicians many times, I’m approachable, please pick up the phone.”

Ms Buttrose earlier described senator Bragg’s announcement as “an act of political interference designed to intimidate”.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young flagged she would move to stop the “witch hunt” and “abuse of proper process” from going ahead when parliament sits next week.

“It shouldn’t be at the dictation of any government or any politician as to what the ABC does or doesn’t report on,” she said.

Ms Buttrose was appointed ABC chair by Prime Minister Scott Morrison in 2019.

By Georgie Moore in Canberra

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