JOURNALIST: What’s your response to the reports that the ABC Chairman Justin Milne called for journalist Emma Alberici to be sacked because the Government didn’t like her?
PRIME MINISTER: Well I can’t attest to the veracity of those reports or their accuracy. What I do know is that the ABC is funded by the taxpayer, it’s governed by an independent board and its independence is important to me. It’s important to our Government and that independence needs to be maintained.
JOURNALIST: Should Justin Milne resign?
PRIME MINISTER: Well you’re talking about reports the veracity of which have not been established. I’m not aware of him actually having confirmed any of these things. So people are making some allegations at the moment, but what the facts are, I still think is a little unclear.
JOURNALIST: If those reports are confirmed, does that mean –
PRIME MINISTER: Well I don’t get into hypotheticals, I don’t get into hypotheticals.
JOURNALIST: I understand they are accurate though.
PRIME MINISTER: Well, you understand that. There’s nothing before me, I haven’t seen the actual email or it’s veracity or anything like that. My point is simply this; the ABC is an independent broadcaster, it’s funded by the taxpayers. I expect the ABC to behave in a professional way. I expect everyone who works there to respect the fact that they’re funded by the Australian taxpayer and it should conduct itself in a highly independent and unbiased way. That’s what I expect of the ABC. That’s what all Australians expect of the ABC. Now, they’re not a perfect organisation. They get things wrong from time to time, they report inaccurately from time to time and when that happens they’ll get called out for it. There is a process for that happening and that’s the proper process that should be followed. When I’ve had issues with the ABC in the past, that’s where I’ve raised those issues. And how the ABC deals with it is up to them.
JOURNALIST: Do you think that type of conduct is appropriate for a Chairman of the ABC?
PRIME MINISTER: Well again, you’re asking me to comment on conduct which hasn’t been established as a matter of fact. I’ve seen the reports, just like you have but I understand – at least to my knowledge – the Chairman hasn’t made any comment about the veracity of those reports. So I think it would be very unfair and premature for me to be offering opinions about things that are yet to be established.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister can I also just ask, how [inaudible] relationship with China?
PRIME MINISTER: We’ve always had, I think, a very constructive relationship with China and I will continue to engage across the many opportunities that we have. There are opportunities coming up at the forthcoming APEC meeting, I know the Foreign Minister Senator Payne had a very excellent meeting just in the last day or so over in New York. And look, this is an important relationship for Australia. It’s an important relationship for the region and I think we’ve always played a very constructive role about how we’ve gone about that relationship. And people can expect that from me as Prime Minister, to continue and I’ll be having a bit more to say about those sort of foreign policy issues in the months ahead. At the moment I’ve very focussed on the domestic priorities that I’ve been setting. The issues around the drought in particular, our economy, the aged care sector, these are things that are very much dominating my agenda at the moment, infrastructure spending and the like. But when it comes to our international policies, we’ve run a very consistent approach over the last five years as our Government and we’ll continue to do just that.
Thanks very much.