CANBERRA -- Under investigation by the Australian Electoral Commission for possible breaches of electoral laws and facing mounting pressure, One Nation senators are attempting to flex their crossbench muscles by demanding that the Turnbull Government slash the budget of the ABC.
"Else" is billions of dollars' worth of budget measures plus major government legislative packages like media reforms.
Why the ABC?
Well Four Corners.
And any ABC journalist asking One Nation questions over those secret recordings, that plane, who paid for it, why it was paid for and what chief of staff James Ashby is up to. That's among other things.
On Tuesday, Hanson described questions about the plane and donations as "disgusting". Now the party is trying to take action.
"It's about time we took a stand against the ABC because if it's us and they destroy us, what is it next, the government? They're showing total bias against One Nation," One Nation senator Brian Burston told The Australian.
Yesterday Hanson refused to answer questions about plane donation. Now demands ABC $ cut, to silence them. No one's above scrutiny, Senator. https://t.co/iyvSb9tufT— Senator Murray Watt (@MurrayWatt) May 31, 2017
The ABC is certainly not the only media outfit inconveniently asking One Nation to be accountable as a political party, but it is the major one receiving public funding.
Labor Senator Murray Watt has had enough.
"That is the kind of effort that Senator Hanson is willing to go to to silence her critics, to try to shut down legitimate questions, she won't talk to journalists, she's threatening the ABC," he told reporters in Canberra.
"Today is the day that Senator Hanson needs to come forward and make a full statement to the media and the Australian public about exactly what has gone on in this scandal. She can't keep hiding from these questions forever.
Hanson wanting the ABC budget slashed when she demonstrated last week she has no understanding of its budget, or SBS' for that matter. https://t.co/9AY7o23BaK— Mark Humphries (@markhumphries) May 30, 2017
And, less than 24 hours later, a back down from Hanson with the release of a statement saying "ABC cuts will not make of break budget support".
It was not without a dig or two at the ABC, but the threat has been withdrawn.
Pauline Hanson has now backed down on Brian Burston's threats that One Nation would block budget measures without big cuts to the ABC pic.twitter.com/7LY76XMwKZ— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) May 31, 2017
"Despite the ABC's bloated budget and regular displays of bias, it would be not be in the nation's best interests to block government supply in exchange for sweeping cuts to the National Broadcaster," the statement said.
"If the Government wanted to show it was serious about media reform and deficit reduction it would reign in the out of control ABC and SBS."
"The people want One Nation to deal with all legislation on is merits, and the Government's budget will be no different."
Pauline Hanson, One Nation Leader
Earlier, Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has politely batted away the demand and urged One Nation to consider government bills "on their merits".
"The budget situation for the ABC has been established," he told RN Breakfast.
"It is open to crossbench colleagues to raise any issue that they want, but we put our legislation forward to the parliament to be considered on its merits."
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