ABC’s flagship news and current affairs programs, 7.30, Insiders and AM, gave more interviews to “progressive parties” than the Coalition throughout the five-week federal election campaign, analysis by The Australian shows.
Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi says the ABC and SBS should be merged, their multiple networks stripped down to just two national radio and two national TV stations and their budgets severely trimmed accordingly.
Of the 26 interviews completed on the three ABC programs over the campaign period, 10 were given to Liberal Party politicians, 12 were given to the ALP, three to the Greens and one to Centre Alliance.
ABC’s flagship 7.30 program had three live interviews with the Coalition, four with the ALP, and the Greens were interviewed once.
Greens leader Richard Di Natale’s interview was relatively soft, with no interruptions to any answer, while host Leigh Sales more regularly challenged Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten – who were each interviewed on the program twice during the campaign.
In one interview with Mr Shorten, Sales interjected seven times on one question about the cost of Labor’s plan to move to 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
A week later, a combative interview with the Prime Minister saw him interrupted up to 26 times throughout the interview on questions about the economy and budget surplus.
During the election campaign, Labor made two appearances on Insiders, while the Coalition appeared once.
Tanya Plibersek and Mr Shorten both appeared on the program, while Josh Frydenberg appeared once in May. In the first week of the campaign, Greens leader Mr Di Natale made an appearance, while on Easter Sunday, Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick spoke on the show, as the two major parties suspended campaigning.
On the morning after the election result, both deputy leaders, Ms Plibersek and the Treasurer made appearances. Ms Plibersek was not pushed on Labor’s result and was asked softer, more neutral questions while Mr Frydenberg was grilled over the Coalition’s “retiree tax” campaign about franking credits.
Mr Frydenberg was also on average asked much tougher questions than Labor, with a number of aggressive questions compared with only one or two directed at Labor. During his first appearance on May 5, he was pushed on the Liberals’ candidate vetting process.
ABC’s half-hour morning radio program, AM, had an equal number of Liberal and Labor politicians on air throughout the campaign period. From April 11, five interviews on AM were given to the Coalition and Labor.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann appeared on the program twice during the period, as did senator Simon Birmingham.
Mr Frydenberg also appeared on the program, and was pushed harder than most, in a bid by host Sabra Lane to get him to answer questions directly.
Two of the interviews handed to the Labor Party were with Tony Burke, while Jim Chalmers, Tanya Plibersek and Chris Bowen were also given airtime.
Mr Bowen endured a tough interview , in one instance telling Lane it was better for her to ask the questions and for him to answer them. Interviews of both Liberal and Labor politicians lasted about the same time, typically six to eight minutes in length.
The only politician from the Greens to be interviewed was Mr Di Natale, who was questioned on Liberal and Labor policies, but not interrogated on his own party’s views and policies.