Tim Blair


New Criterion



Thursday, May 06, 2004
IT'S A TOKEN POINT ALRIGHT, but a few short of a Lifesaver for Auntie's reputation.

According to the announcement Auntie kindly pushed under my door, she is giving columnist Michael Duffy an hour of Radio National time on Monday afternoons in the Pastor Lane repeat time-slot. She says it

reaffirms Radio National's commitment to extend the already broad range of views represented on the station, which has a wide range of commentary programs such as Late Night Live, The National Interest, Big Ideas, Perspective, and Ockham's Razor.

The old whore could always lie like a politician.

Duffy, an independent-minded commentator, will certainly be an improvement on the repeat of Pastor Lane's Sunday sermon he replaces, and a stand-out among the cracked records he will be joining.

Here's Auntie's view of her currently-balanced line-up of commentators.

Michael is a welcome addition to a Radio National commentary team with
an illustrious history. Currently the station
boasts Phillip Adams (Late Night Live), Terry Lane (The National
Interest), Michelle Grattan and Gerard Henderson
(regulars on Radio National Breakfast), and Bruce Shapiro and Beatrix
Campbell (regulars on Late Night Live).

Strange collection, that. Grattan and Henderson are called on to the breakfast show on limited licences to report current news from the guests' microphone, and hardly compare with the presiding roles of Adams and Lane, who are also provided with research and production staff. And what have they done with Australia Talks Back's Sandy McCutcheon? Surely not pretending serial commentary is not commentary.

Leaving out the guests, and the Adams stroke-pals Shapiro and Campbell, who are only there to spin the news from the US and the UK to commune specifications, we are left with the following balance of native opinionising on our ABC (ignoring anything broadcast between midnight and six am):


Philip Adams Late Night Live 8 hours/week
Terry Lane In the National Interest 2, then 1 hour/week
Sandy McCutcheon Australia Talks Back 5 hours/week
Kirsten Garret and off-spring Background Briefing 2 hours/week
Various "seriously-biased" comments on AM, Breakfast, etc. ?2 hours/week

Total: 16-18 hours of left-wing programme agenda-setting and commentary each week.


Michael Duffy Counterpoint 1 hour/week.

Well, Auntie, it's a start, but I can't see it liberating many millions of new funds from the Government.

It just highlights the gross bias that currently exists, and if Duffy is any good he'll highlight the lack of professionalism among the rest of them.