One of the ABC’s most prominent and influential radio host has escaped with a slap on the wrist for an extraordinary post where she called the newly-elected Indigenous Australians minister a ‘legend’.
ABC Radio National host Patricia Karvelas escaped with a ‘caution’ for ‘bias’ over rge selfie she shared to Twitter alongside Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney on the night of last year’s federal election on May 21.
‘This woman is a legend and looks like she will be the next Indigenous Affairs minister #UluruStatement,’ Ms Karvelas wrote.
The post remains on the radio host’s Twitter account and as of Sunday had received more than 300 retweets and 5,700 likes.
Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson questioned ABC’s Managing Director David Anderson in November about whether the post breached the network’s personal use of social media code.
ABC Radio National host Patricia Karvelas (left) was cautioned for being biased after sharing a selfie calling Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney (right) a ‘legend’ on Twitter on the night of the federal election in 2022
The broadcaster’s code requires employees not to ‘damage the ABC’s reputation for impartiality and independence’ when using social media.
Mr Anderson told the Senate Estimates hearing that he did not believe the post breached the ABC’s code.
‘I don’t think it (the post) suggests that there was political bias there at all,’ Mr Anderson said.
However, the ABC admitted on Sunday it had ‘cautioned’ Ms Karvelas following her Twitter post but due to ‘privacy considerations’ did not ‘disclose the detail of confidential staff reviews of investigations’, The Australian reported.
Senator Henderson on Sunday criticised the ABC’s response and claimed the network did not confirm whether it agreed with Mr Anderson’s evidence.
‘[The ABC] refused to confirm if it stands by Mr Anderson’s evidence that this tweet does not breach the ABC’s social media code,’ Ms Henderson said.
‘The ABC is clearly trying to cover up what happened here. If there’s no issue with Ms Karvelas’ tweet as Mr Anderson claimed, why was she cautioned?’
The ABC gave staff a stern warning about the use of social media in 2021 after the public broadcaster faced several defamation cases involving senior journalists.
The public broadcaster was questioned over Ms Karvelas’ (pictured) Twitter post and whether it breached the ABC’s social media code, which requires employees not to ‘damage the ABC’s reputation for impartiality and independence’
It comes after Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney was called out by Karvelas over an ‘outright lie’ when she made the extraordinary claim on the radio host’s show that the Voice to Parliament would have prevented Alice Springs’ crime wave.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Ms Burney flew to Alice Springs on January 24 to introduce an alcohol sales ban.
Mr Albanese and Ms Burney made the emergency visit after heavy criticism from the Opposition and locals about a 300 per cent surge in crime since Labor dropped alcohol sales bans in more than 40 indigenous communities in July, last year.
Ms Burney told Karvelas that if a Voice to Parliament had been established earlier ‘the situation in Alice Springs wouldn’t be what it is’.
Karvelas then pressed Ms Burney on whether she or the PM had been tough enough on alcohol bans in the Northern Territory, the minister said of their flying visit: ‘The most important thing is we made enormous gains yesterday.
‘I’ve been thinking about this very deeply and it was expressed yesterday, that if the Voice to Parliament had been established previously, I don’t think we would be where we are in terms of where Alice Springs is at the moment,’ she said.
Linda Burney (above with PM Anthony Albanese on their fly-in visit to Alice Springs) was slammed by Fordham who accused her of using Alice Springs’ lawless violence to sell the yes vote for the Voice
However, 2GB host Ben Fordham slammed Ms Burney comments as not only ‘disgraceful’ but an ‘outright lie’.
‘Linda Burney has had a shocker. She is living in fantasy land,’ Fordham said.
‘I hope you’re not using using what’s happening in Alice Springs to build a case for the Voice, because it sure sounds like it.
‘Really I mean Linda, you don’t believe that. You’re either telling fibs or living in cuckoo land.’
He also gave Ms Burney a massive spray for her reasoning why this would be so when she said, ‘because we would have been getting practical advice from people who are representative of the community in relation to these social issues’
‘Minister you’ve already had that. The people of Alice Springs have been banging down the door pleading for your help,’ Fordham said.
National Party Senator Matt Canavan called for Ms Burney to quit her job following her comments on the Voice referendum.
‘It shows how out of touch these people are. We have a whole department here in Canberra focused on indigenous affairs issues,’ Mr Canavan said.
‘If they could not see what was going on in Alice Springs and report it back to their own minister what hope has 25 odd people in the Indigenous Voice to do the same
‘This is a minister clearly out of her depth. She should go. How could she not know what was going on in Alice Springs. It’s not another planet.’
Ms Burney (pictured) claimed on ABC radio a day after her flying visit to Alice Springs that had the Voice to Parliament been in operation ‘I don’t think we would be where we are in terms of where Alice Springs is at the moment’
Fordham quoted from a parliamentary inquiry last month into the sunsetting of the Stronger Futures legislation.
Stephen Gourley, Director of Emergency Medicine at Alice Springs Hospital, told the hearing that since bans were lifted ‘the level of injuries we’ve seen is horrific, it’s mostly women being beaten’.
At the same inquiry, Alice Springs GP Dr John Boffa urged for grog bans to return, because ‘we need to keep extra protections and extra measures until we can see evidence the trauma in children is reducing’.
Last October, the Central Desert Regional Council reported on the immediate impact of lifting the grog ban as ‘a spike in alcohol-fueled violence’.
And in June 2022, on the eve of the ban lifting, eight local indigenous groups and Central Australia Aboriginal Congress chief Donna Ah Chee warned Ms Burney in a letter that ‘to permit more access to alcohol will undoubtedly add fuel to this fire’.
Alice Springs Police recorded 54 domestic-violence incidents in the first 48 hours after the ban.