A letter to the editor worth a readt

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Chronicle (Toowoomba) Wednesday 19/9/2001 General News Page 8

To the editor

All true friends of the ABC should be gravely concerned about the increasing evidence of financial links between the Friends of the ABC and the trade union movement. It now appears that the Friends have been hijacked by one of Australia's most militant trade unions, the CFMEU.

According to a report in Saturday's Daily Telegraph, members of the Friends of the ABC are being urged to provide financial support to oppose a royal commission into violence and corruption in the building in-dustry. The money would be for an advertisement to support the CFMEU.

This is an extraordinarily partisan intervention for the Friends to take and clearly beyond the charter of the orgnnisation.

The Friends of the ABC are supposed to support Australians with an interest in the future of the ABC, not act as fund-raisers for the most radical elements of the trade union movement.

This is the latest example of the so-called Friends of the ABC being captured by the trade union movement, with the CPSU jointly organising Friends rallies, and the CPSU's Graeme Thomson being the key note speaker at the Friends Annual General conference.

It is also clear that the CPSU, which has provided more than $75,000 to the Labor Party over the past two years, worked in tandem with the Federal Labor Members and Senators in undermining ABC management.

The ABC should not be treated as a political football by the Labor Party or the unions.

Richard WOOD. Toowoomba.

-- Anonymous, September 21, 2001


The writer of this letter has got things confused.

First, there is not now, and there never has been, any financial relationship between the Friends of the ABC and the CFMEU. The Friends of the ABC have never given so much as a cent to the CFMEU. There are no "financial links" and there is no evidence of any financial links.

What happend was that a member of the public posted a message on the Friends of the ABC, NSW, email discussion list. This message suggested that the Friends of the ABC should support the CFMEU. The President of the Friends of the ABC, NSW, Penelope Tolz, specifically rejected the proposal. Far from giving money to the CFMEU the Friends of the ABC has clearly and publicly rejected the proposal

This list, like the disucssion board on the SA website of the FABC, is open to the public. You do not have to be an FABC memember to join the discussion. While we welcome public input and discussion of issues related to the ABC, Friends of the ABC policy is determined by its members in a democratic fashion. It is not determined by individuals who might post messages on one of our discussion lists.

The Friends of the ABC has no policy with regard to the CFMEU. We neither support nor oppose the holding of a royal commission into the building industry. We are a single issue organisation. Our concern is the ABC. We have absolutely no views one way or the other about the building industry.

The Friends of the ABC, over many years, have co-operated with ABC Management, and ABC unions, over matters of mutual interest. We have supported ABC managements requests for additional funding on numerous occasions. We have co-opeated with the major ABC unions, the CPSU and the MEAA, in seeking guarantees of ABC independence and increases in ABC funding. We make no apology for making common cause with ABC management, ABC staff, and ABC unions when they act in the interests of the ABC.

The Secretary of the ABC section of the CPSU was a keynote speaker at the National Conference of the Friends of the ABC this year. The Prime Minister's close friend, ABC Chairman Donald McDonald was a keynote speaker at our previous national conference. We have not be "caputured" by either the CPSU or the Prime Ministers friend - we simply invited both of them to speak at our conferences.

-- Anonymous, September 25, 2001

As Treasurer of the Friends of the ABC in Queensland, I have to say that this is the first I have heard about it. There has been no duiscussion of this at all at committee meetings, and no one has approached me to approve a payout. I think this is probably just completely incorrect.

-- Anonymous, September 22, 2001

I went and read the original article - it refers to the NSW Freinds of the ABC, not QLD. Still not a good look for the organisation!

-- Anonymous, September 23, 2001

I think Darce's answer above covers the situation nicely. The only thing I would add from personal experience is that the Queensland committee is clearly VERY wary about appearing to be connected in any way with any political party, and even some of our simplest decisions, such choosing a venue for committee meetings, have been heaviliy influenced by the desire NOT to favour any party.

Can we send Darce's letter to the editor of the Toowoomba paper by way of response?

tony hedemann

-- Anonymous, September 26, 2001

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