By Vera Figner

Good on yez, Paul Barry and the whole Media Watch team, for the segment ACON & the ABC aired on 17 October 2022. What a joy to see some facts provided and pertinent concerns raised. We saw lotsa good here, a coupla bads, and then the uglies of the responses and reactions by ABC admin and personalities.

Here goes.

The good

  • Breaking through the No Debate diktat the trans-extremist lobbyists have been imposing on society and in particular on the ABC
  • Correctly identifying ACON as a lobby group
  • Calling on the ABC to review its arrangement with ACON
  • Revealing the amount of money taxpayer-funded Aunty pays to ACON
  • Pointing out that ACON’s influence on the ABC goes beyond workplace diversity measures, affecting its programming as well
  • Querying whether the ABC’s ACON membership affects its impartiality and/or makes it steer clear of debate on transgender issues
  • Drawing attention to trans-extremist thuggery at public events eg the recent Melbourne Uni debate
  • Citing the BBC’s withdrawal from Stonewall’s equality index, very similar to ACON’s AWEI

The bad

  • Calling ACON Exposed a ‘women’s anti-trans group’. ACON Exposed rightly rejects that description, saying on their website:

‘When the ABC called ACON Exposed an anti-trans group, they implied that ACON

Exposed attacks the rights of transgender individuals to live freely and equally. This is not

true. ACON Exposed disagrees with the premise that internally-felt gender identity trumps

protections required for biological sex.’

  • Comparing ACON to Greenpeace and the Australian Republican Movement. Greenpeace and the Australian Republican Movement are progressive movements. There’s nothing progressive about the trans-extremist agenda: it undermines women’s sex-based rights, it undermines the rights of same-sex attracted LGB people, and it encourages kid-transing.
  • Adopting an uncritical attitude to ACON’s influence on ABC workplace culture. AWEI point-scorers like gender-neutral toilets and erasing the term ‘mother’ from HR policy documents don’t actually make for a ‘safe and inclusive’ workplace for women.

The ugly

  • Preposterous for the ABC (anonymous spokesperson? Who??) to claim ACON has ‘no influence on editorial content’ given the evidence unearthed by ACON Exposed and presented on Media Watch. We know AWEI gave the ABC points for positive programming promoting kid-transing (First Day, Innies and Outies, ABC Queer).
  • We also know that the ABC’s ACON ‘relationship manager’:
    • offered tips for content and promised AWEI points for it
    • declared an on-air discussion on ABC Classic ‘AWEI-worthy’
    • gave at least one ABC journalist advice on wording
  • Preposterous for Patricia Karvelas (presenter Radio National Breakfast) and Luke Siddham Dundon (producer Radio National Drive) to point out that the ABC has relationships with other diversity orgs like the Australian Network on Disability, and ask why the scrutiny on only this one group. It’s because of the ACON influence on ABC content, of course, not just workplace practices! Didn’t either of them actually watch the segment?
  • Preposterous of Ariel Bogle (reporter, ABC Investigations) to object that the segment hadn’t linked what she calls ‘anti-trans voices and talking points’ (like umm objecting to men in women’s sports, refuges, and prisons?) to the ‘far-right entities and narratives’ they ‘often flow from and are intertwined with’. Maybe Bogle needs to get out more, and become aware of the vast swathes of people – of all or no political persuasion – who don’t buy the trans-extremist agenda. As for her claim that these so-called ‘anti-trans voices’ have led to ‘acts of violence in the US and UK’: Talk about blaming the victim! If Maria McLaughlin had just shut up and stayed home, she wouldn’t have been king-punched to the ground by a trans-extremist in London’s Hyde Park. Likewise Fred Sargeant – a veteran gay activist, by the way – pushed to the ground at a Vermont Pride demo. And many many others.
  • Preposterous for Benjamin Law (co-presenter, RN’s Stop Everything) to say on-air that he would ‘question the framing of ACON as a lobby group’ because ‘they are not a fringe group’: Since when has that been a criterion?
  • Preposterous of Beverley Wang (co-presenter, RN’s Stop Everything) to claim on-air in the same broadcast that ACON Exposed ‘take as a given that they’re against transgender people’. ACON Exposed does nothing of the kind. That was a spin the Media Watch segment put on them. Can’t Wang distinguish? Didn’t she check?
  • Finally, most preposterous of all, the ABC hasn’t (yet) launched a review into its arrangement with ACON, an arrangement that cost taxpayers over $15,000 in the 2021-2022 financial year and did absolutely nothing for the ABC’s reputation for impartiality, independence, and integrity.

Aunty, break free!!