ABC Senate investigation still wanted by Sen. Andrew Bragg

Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg will seek other ways for the public to speak to the government about their concerns about the CBA’s complaints system after his failed attempts to trigger a Senate inquiry.

Senator Bragg said he received about 20 submissions to the inquiry before it was thwarted by a Greens motion last Tuesday, and signaled he would find a way to allow the public to discuss their concerns.

Liberal Sen. Andrew Bragg won’t give up on his bid for a public hearing into how the CBA handles complaints.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen/James Brickwood

“I will not concede defeat on the public’s ability to have a say,” said Senator Bragg. “There are still options I’m looking at. People want parliamentary privilege for their protection. They can’t get that from the CBA, especially when the CBA is spending $26 million over four years on legal fees.

Sen. Bragg’s comments come as the ABC and SBS prepare to face another round of Senate hearings on Monday. The amount of public funds spent on legal fees and broadcaster complaint processes are expected to be the focus of the four-hour hearing.

ABC President Ita Buttrose accused the Morrison government of political interference earlier this month after Senator Bragg announced an investigation into how the national broadcaster and SBS handled public complaints about its content. Ms Buttrose, who had previously commissioned an independent review of the CBA’s complaints framework, urged the Senate to suspend or terminate the investigation.

His request was granted by a motion by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young which, with the support of Labor and Independent MPs, derailed the inquiry until the next Parliament. It was closed after Liberal Senator Gerard Rennick failed to attend a vote on a motion to postpone the inquiry.

Senator Bragg, chairman of the Senate environment and communications committee and the originator of the inquiry, said the result was “a step backwards” for democracy.

He doesn’t believe the CBA’s investigation is as strong as the Senate’s because it doesn’t involve public hearings, where the evidence would be protected by parliamentary privilege. His creation of the inquiry broke with the typical procedure whereby inquiries are established following a vote on the floor of the senate.

The findings of the ABC’s review, which will be led by former Commonwealth ombudsman John McMillan and former SBS news boss Seven and Ten Jim Carroll, are expected to be submitted to the board of directors. ABC in March. The review was commissioned after a series of complaints from federal and state politicians about programs such as the Ghost Train series in the tragedy of Luna Park in 1979.

Norman D. Briggs