Does Stan Grant saga prove the ABC is out of touch with its audience?

Well said, Stuart Littlemore and David Salter (“ABC’s self-inflicted woes not just a matter of opinion”, May 22). In futilely chasing a younger audience, the ABC is dishing up material that looks like losing this once rusted-on supporter. Greg Baker, Fitzroy Falls

ABC logo including a painting showing Captain James Cook taking possession of NSW.

Illustration: Matt Davidson

I just read the article from Littlemore and Salter. Fabulous! I am so relieved that this has been put to paper and I hope you get a great response. The ABC has not been impartial for years and the quality of its journalism has slipped to appalling levels. Many no longer even trust the news content. Pamela Shepherd, Balgowlah

I have the highest regard for Salter and Littlemore, both titans of television. However, they speak to a different time. Gone are the days when the focus of a newsroom was a prime-time bulletin. The relentless news cycle has eroded opportunity for those joining the ranks today; they are expected to do more with less. I have no doubt they long for the luxury of a lengthy cadetship being mentored by admired elders. Authority and excellence on the ABC has not disappeared – think – but sadly the volume of daily coverage dilutes its potency. Janet Argall, Dulwich Hill

Littlemore and Salter are spot on: why has the ABC allowed a high-profile presenter to also be an activist on its outlets? Other prominent public broadcasters, such as the BBC or the US PBS/NPR would never allow one of their high-profile, prime-time presenters to vent their anger on their outlets. For instance, Fiona Bruce and David Dimbleby — present and past presenters of the BBC’s Question Time (on which the ABC’s Q&A is modelled) — have never aired their opinions on any political issues at the BBC. Nor did past prominent ABC presenters; from Andrew Olle and Mark Colvin and Tony Jones, undermine their journalistic authority by campaigning for political causes.
I’m not even a high-profile ABC staff presenter of a prime-time program. But if I used my platform to prosecute the no side in the Voice debate, management would (rightly) subject me to intense scrutiny. Yet more high-profile presenters get away with being both presenters and activists. Why can’t the ABC be more like the BBC and strive for genuine objectivity? Tom Switzer, Cammeray

Hooray for Littlemore. A fine analysis of the present sorry state of the national broadcaster. Michael Kozlowski, Cowra

What a mixed bag from Littlemore and Salter. A good dose of succinct analysis, but also a fair swathe of bitter, out-of-date nostalgia; eliciting the response “OK Boomer”. Phil Bradshaw, Naremburn

Well said, Littlemore and Salter. Frankly, I’m tired of having slant and perspective pushed into what should be the presentation of fact in news broadcasts or the televised unfolding of events as they happen. The prolonged on-air discussion during the recent coronation broadcast was as unnecessary as it was out of place. It was like watching a bunch of people openly discussing clerical abuse during a baptism. Save it for the opinion segments. Adrian Connelly, Springwood

As one of the older segments of the population dedicated to the ABC over several decades, the opinion piece of Littlemore and Salter so clearly articulates my view of where the ABC now stands. I do hope that the ABC management can read their words and if squirming, listen and act as there is a very strong argument for improvement to our national broadcaster. Kristin Dawson, Kanahooka

Littlemore and Salter have nailed it. Where can I go to hear news and issues of the day reported without slant or sensationalism? It once was the ABC, but that has long disappeared. I want a media organisation where journalists provide details with objectivity, where presenters present without bias or favour and where egos are left at the front door. I want a media organisation that upholds the highest standards in spoken English with elevated standards of grammar, punctuation, vocabulary and pronunciation. The ABC needs to stick to its knitting and provide the service for which it was created. James Laukka, Epping

Any police brutality is intolerable

I am amazed at the reaction of some people to the Taser attack on a very old lady, saying “Let’s wait for an inquiry” (Letters, May 22). Police brutality in any form should not be tolerated. For once, I hope we follow the lead of the US. The police involved should be charged. Michael Walsh, Croydon

 NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb and grandmother Clare Nowland.

Flavio Brancaleone, Supplied

The police commissioner may not want to view the footage of the Tasering of Clare Nowland, but it is her duty to watch it. Following this she must act decisively to ensure people with their finger on the Taser trigger are better able to make rational decisions about its use. Ninety-five years old, 1.55 metres tall, 43 kilograms and clutching a walking frame? Maybe not. David Baird, Burradoo

I work in mental health, and the sector is proud of its reduction in the number of restraints. Not so in aged care, where restraints, either physical, chemical or by Taser, appear to be exercised without due care. In psycho-geriatric units, where there are many elderly people with dementia as well as mental illness, and who exhibit challenging behaviours, staff, including security, are trained in de-escalation and violence prevention management. It is time that police and aged care workers are trained in these measures and techniques. Patricia Farrar, Concord

It is a lame excuse to hide behind a statutory body to review the internal police investigation for the seemingly cruel use of a Taser. In the end, the police and the government are accountable to the community; surely a more open and passionate approach would be for the police minister to exercise good sense and keep the public informed. Forget the double-talk and provide answers as quickly as possible. Justice demands it. Michael Blissenden, Dural

We need not wait for the completed inquiry. We already know what it will say. If this incident does not require an independent inquiry, then we might as well accept that there will never be a case where the police do not investigate themselves. Don Firth, Wooli

Other correspondents’ comments on this reference professional training. It seems neither the aged care staff nor the police had a plan B. When Mrs Nowland refused to relinquish her “weapon” she was treated like any other potentially violent offender. How long did the police or staff engage with her and how much time was given to de-escalate the situation? How well trained are staff and police in such skills; especially when the subject is old, frail and suffering from dementia? Adrienne Berkman, Northbridge

Foam tragedy far from first

Today’s front page (”Paradise poisoned”, May 22) should come as no real surprise to those interested in Defence-related safety/environmental issues. This department has a long history of “suboptimal” outcomes relating to chemical exposures. Many of these have been subjected to various reviews, boards of inquiry, studies and even consultants. Unfortunately, no one has ever been held accountable – until, like the PFAS debacle, it becomes unmanageable from a PR perspective and forces action. Defence, like wider users, has known about PFAS in fire-fighting foam for years. Why has it been so poorly managed? Why is no one held ultimately accountable? Where are the regulators? It’s not the first time it’s happened. Bernard Stever, Richmond

Trans: it takes time

In my 50 years as a clinical psychologist I have never encountered a time when expressing concern about a health policy could lead to a health professional being subject to a complaint that could end their career (“Notorious’ speaker threatens to bring Oxford’s famed debating club to its knees”, May 22).

I have worked with sexuality and gender-questioning people throughout my career, and my approach is always the same: “let’s take time to work out what is right for you”. This has meant I have clients who I supported to transition to their preferred gender, and I am proud to see them living happy and fulfilling lives. However, the gender-affirming policy that says if someone says they are trans, that must be accepted, is in my view having some disturbing consequences.

It disturbs me to hear of health professionals using emotional blackmail with parents to pressure them to agree to hormone treatment for their child, based on the false claim that their child will die by suicide if they don’t. It worries me to learn that there are an increasing number of young people regretting their decision to go on hormone therapy, which despite claims are not always reversible. And that school students were allowed to socially transition at school without the parent’s knowledge and consent.

It disturbs me to know of the backlash I will receive for expressing my concerns. But not talking about all these things is doing more harm to the trans community than anything I might say, because more people are becoming aware of these issues, and without a respectful discussion are forming views often not supportive of the trans community. Sandra Pertot, Diamond Beach

Grant let down

Yes, Sean Kelly, we have all failed Stan Grant (“Stan Grant’s monarchy truth bombs were perfectly timed. If not now, when?” May 22). Grant, and all Indigenous people, really, have been failed by small-target, election-cycle leaders. And they have been failed by our media; the vacuum is swiftly filled by the most ignorant with the loudest voices, together with anonymous social media warriors. Kelly’s column may have come too late for Stan Grant, but it should not be too late for the rest of us. Mark Paskal, Austinmer

Stan Grant


Thank you, Sean Kelly, for your support of Grant as someone whose job it was, as a journalist and ABC TV commentator, to report the truth to readers and listeners. Please come back, Stan – your truth-telling is invaluable for understanding the history of our country; you teach us the facts the powerful still choose not to publicise. Valerie Little, Tathra.

Kelly is right on the money about the vitriol and racism targeted at Grant. Many of his critics had thought it inappropriate for him to make negative comments about the monarchy on the day of the coronation because “this is not the right time”. It’s a phrase wheeled out every time that others want to stonewall a discussion.
Con Vaitsas, Ashbury

The timing of Stan Grant’s comments can be argued. What can’t be argued is that sometimes we need to hear truth from the traumatised. Mark Porter, New Lambton

I strongly disagree with Eric Abetz (Letters, May 22) and commend Kelly. I watched the ABC coverage of the coronation, including the ABC panel’s commentary beforehand. I found it refreshing and highly appropriate that the ABC commentators, including Grant, contextualised the event in light of where we as Australians find ourselves in 2023. We are members of an independent nation embracing our emerging identity and beginning to understand and address the damage done to our first people by British colonisation. Overall, the coverage was balanced. Pam Timms, Suffolk Park

Senator Abetz, you are on record as saying “free speech is one of the great virtues that underpin our society. Failure to celebrate free speech, especially for one’s political or ideological opponents, is to seriously undermine this foundational institution of our society”. (Hansard October 17, 2017) Yet you seem to have a problem with Grant doing just that during the coronation. You can’t have it both ways. Vivienne Freeman, Warrawee

Housing priorities

The problem is that everyone wants the value of their existing residence to go up, but the cost of their children’s desired one to go down – in the same market.
We as a nation need to make a choice: is housing an investment or a human right? Because it cannot be both at the same time. Andrew Taubman, Queens Park

Helping hands

The opinion piece by Mick Ryan today: “Stand by or bystand? Its our choice” hits the nail on the head. The current relatively peaceful situation in our region may well deteriorate to the point that Australia needs assistance to protect our democracy. We must help our friends if we hope they will help us. Julian Bowditch, Croydon

Hackers reign

Nick McKenzie’s report (“Russia knows identity of Medibank hackers”, May 22) reminds us just how dangerous cyber warfare is, with the Medibank Private data breaches linked directly to Russia. Russia has done nothing about it probably because the very same hackers are used by Putin for cyber warfare. Anything to attack democracies and democratic principles, as seen in their interference in recent US elections. If you can plant lies and then get them magnified a thousandfold free on social media, it’s a very cheap way of invading a country without having to invade physically. Gary Barnes, Mosman

Be rude, be safe

Like Jim Pollitt (Letters, May 22), I notice how communities suffering disaster are always expressed to be “tight-knit”. Thus, there are no disasters where locals are especially rude to each other. Ian Morison, Forrest ACT

A private matter

Regarding Nola Tucker’s letter about the Shore school incident; as the incident occurred in a private school it was a fracas, not a fight. Nola can rest assured that those involved will already have been “repurposed” to a public school setting. Barry Ffrench, Cronulla

Is your reporting of bad behaviour by hormonal adolescents limited for some reason to those who are students of private schools, or is it because they are the only ones who ever behave badly? Steve McCann, Lane Cove

Smart skill set

I condemn the increasing use of the term “smarts”. What is wrong with the far more elegant and meaningful term “ability”? Ruth Magoffin, Cheltenham

Proud mum

I can only say that Maryanne would be absolutely so proud of her son Anthony Albanese (“You can’t simply wish things to happen”, May 20). Noelene Jensen-Wolf, Wentworth Falls

New Atlantis

New York, the greatest dive site on the planet (“New York ’will sink if more skyscrapers are built”, May 22). Lyn Savage, Coogee

  • To submit a letter to , email l[email protected]. Click here for tips on how to submit letters.

( Information from was used in this report. Also if you have any problem of this article or if you need to remove this articles, please email here and we will delete this immediately. [email protected] )

Leave a Comment

Share to...