This exchange was on Q & A last night (emphasis added):
GREGORY CORE: Is the Coalition considering the sale and/or the privatisation of the ABC in their fiscal review or in the foreseeable future?
TONY JONES: Joe Hockey?
JOE HOCKEY: There was a striking resemblance to you there actually. No, we’re not. The ABC is not for sale. It doesn’t make a profit does it, Tony? It is a cost centre, so it is not worth anything for sale. So, no, it is not for sale.
TONY JONES: Okay.
JOE HOCKEY: I can guarantee that.
TONY JONES: They did it in New Zealand, so it’s a legitimate question.
JOE HOCKEY: No. Well, they must have ads running in New Zealand.
TONY JONES: They do.
JOE HOCKEY: But we love our ABC. Believe it or not Tony, we love our ABC.
TONY JONES: Well, while you are on the subject – while you are on the subject, is the ABC immune from cuts? Because the Howard government, when they first came in, cut the ABC 10 and then 2% in two years?
JOE HOCKEY: Well, the Government has cut the ABC as well, by the way.
TONY JONES: That’s not right.
JOE HOCKEY: I’d just say to you is there any waste in the ABC at all, Tony?
TONY JONES: Say that again?
JOE HOCKEY: Is there any waste?
TONY JONES: If you are looking for waste, don’t look here.
JOE HOCKEY: We will have to look at Leigh Sales’ remuneration then, not yours.
TONY JONES: Certainly not. Certainly not. We’ll just get a quick response from Chris Bowen on this before we move on.
CHRIS BOWEN: Look, I accept that Joe is not going to privatise the ABC. I accept that that’s his position and he will honour that. I do think the ABC, though, has a fair bit to worry about when it comes to funding. As you said, it is what they cut in the Howard Government. We have not cut ABC funding, contrary to your assertion. I think the ABC and the SBS are both very important national institutions and they shouldn’t have their funding cut and you won’t promise not to.
TONY JONES: Well, a quick response to that, Joe Hockey?
JOE HOCKEY: Well, if there is waste, we will cut it.
TONY JONES: All right. We have got time for one last question.
Talk about a back-handed compliment – the ABC isn’t worth anything, so it’s not for sale. Well, yes, I suppose there is logic in that statement. An Abbott government, however, could make an effort at commercialising the ABC.