On Q&A this week, Nick Cater was asked whether he had a conflict of interest in arguing for the shutdown of the $223 Australia Network because News Corporation wants to bid for the network.
This is ludicrous. As Greg Sheridan writes in the Australian, the entire network should be shutdown. Sheridan gives numerous cogent reasons for the network to be terminated. He is wrong in only one respect.
Give the Australia Network money back to DFAT and let everyone, journalists and diplomats alike, do their real jobs.
No. Simply return the savings to the taxpayer. As I have argued many times, DFAT has ample resources and needs substantial reform.
Peter van Onselen, by contrast, thinks that shutting down the network would be
throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
He claims the ‘soft diplomacy’ has some value, although I have seen no empirical evidence to support this contention. In fact there is no difficulty in obtaining Australian content overseas through the internet. It is an extraordinary statement that the taxpayer should spend close to 1/4 of a billion dollars over ten years on an untested proposition.
Given the parlous state of the Budget inherited by the Abbott Government, there are numerous more important uses for those resources. In my view it should be used to pay down Government debt. Australia’s best form of diplomacy – hard or soft – is to ensure a strong economy, free market, and individual liberty. Alongside a consistent and ethical government, there could be no better system of diplomacy.
Let’s show Australia’s virtues by what we do, rather than what we say.