The axing of ABC’s fact-checking unit is a disgrace.
In an era of shrinking newsrooms, breathless reporting, and “hot takes”, we need it more than ever…
Fact Check was created in 2013, with a small staff, two months before the federal election. It exists to determine the accuracy of things politicians say – and advocacy groups, and other public figures.
It was funded through a three-year, $20 million-per-year deal with the previous Labor government. (This money was used for other news initiatives, too.) The Turnbull government renewed that deal, but slashed the annual allocation to $13.5 million.
Fact Check is a headache for everyone it scrutinises. Especially politicians. At the time of writing, its main story is about Malcolm Turnbull. It presents evidence challenging Turnbull’s comments about Labor’s negative gearing policy. It concludes the prime minister’s claims don’t “stack up”….
The unit’s verdicts have been referred to an estimated 50 times in the last session of the Australian parliament, and were often mentioned on ABC TV and radio programs. Even rival media outlets used them (when it suited them).
Now, Fact Check, as we know it, is dead.
Is anyone surprised?
Fact Check can embarrass Labor too, as in the latest one: Fact check: Is Labor’s economic plan the most comprehensive in living memory?
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann probably likes that one, but he sure didn’t like Fact check: Was Labor responsible for ‘a record deficit’?
Was Labor responsible for “a record deficit”? ABC Fact Check runs the numbers.
Senator Cormann is wrong.
This fact check is based on research from a previous claim on debt and deficit made by Deputy Liberal Leader Julie Bishop.
Budget figures and historical data show that Labor inherited a surplus close to $20 billion, but the deficit they “turned that into” was far from a record.
Experts told Fact Check that in order to make comparisons over time, deficits must be measured as a share of GDP, and the largest deficit as a share of GDP in Labor’s last term was in 2009-2010 at 4.2 per cent.
This pales in comparison with deficits sustained during World War II, which were over 20 per cent of GDP, and World War I, which were over 10 per cent….
Yes, Fact Check ought to be cherished as a jewel in the ABC’s crown. Thank God it is still running despite everything.
There are interesting factoids in a side column also. For example, a link to Overseas born Aussies highest in over a century.
The proportion of Australians who were born overseas has hit its highest point in over 120 years, with 28 per cent of Australia’s population born overseas, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
“Australia has traditionally had a high proportion of migrants, but we’ve now hit a peak not seen since the late 1800s,” said Beidar Cho from the ABS.
The percentage of Australian residents born overseas has increased every year for the last 15 years.
“The number of Australian residents born in India has almost tripled over the last 10 years and residents born in China have more than doubled in this time.”
The change in our migrant mix can best be observed in the differences in median age of certain groups.
“Migrants born in Italy, for example, had a median age of 64.7 years in 2005. This increased to 69.3 years in 2015 – indicating a drop in recent migration and the aging of existing migrants,” said Ms Cho. “On the other hand, migrants from our Asian neighbours, such as India, have seen a reduction in median age from 37 years in 2005 to 33.4 years in 2015.”