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Article: Minister, come clean on the ABC’s secret defamation payments
    • 18 Jul, 2022

    Article: Minister, come clean on the ABC’s secret defamation payments

    The Courier Mail Des Houghton

    Michelle Rowland, the Communications Minister, has dodged questions about a substantial payment confidentially made by the ABC to settle a defamation action.

    Rowland declined to say whether the ABC informed her that wealthy Queenslander Kevin Young got $400,000 from the ABC to settle a long-running defamation case following a critical story on 7.30 in August 2014.

    The new minister appeared to distance herself from the controversy. Rowland’s press secretary issued a statement attributed not to Rowland but to a spokesperson for themMinister.

    It read: “The ABC has operational and editorial independence.

    “ABC legal matters are a matter for the ABC.

    “The ABC is accountable for its use of taxpayer funds through a range accountability mechanisms, including Senate Estimates, subject to legal professional privilege.’’

    Young from the Gold Coast, the founder of The Investors Club also known as the Property Club, had sued ABC for defamation.

    He alleged in the Federal Court the national broadcaster showed “reckless indifference to the truth”.

    He also acted against the ABC for stories posted on its websites. Some of the online articles were later amended during the dispute.

    The payment disclosure raises the possibility that other secret payments have been made to Australians aggrieved by the ABC.

    If so, Rowland should cease being evasive and tell us how many and how much. It’s our money, after all.

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