The Australia Network (originally Australia Television International) was originally proposed to heighten Australia's presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
When the renewal came up, the tender panel twice recommended sky TV for the job only to see the government intervene and hand the contract to the ABC indefinitely.
JULIA GILLARD, PRIME MINISTER: On the Australia Network tender, the Government determined that it was best that the ABC do that work, and that was the right decision.
STEPHEN LONG, REPORTER: Perhaps, but the process was appalling
DAVID SALTER, MEDIA COMMENTATOR: A shemozzle from start to finish.
SKY NEWS REPORT: The Auditor General's report has criticised the Government's handling of the tender process, and says it's raised at least concerns of perception when it comes to a conflict of interest.
TONY ABBOTT, OPPOSITION LEADER: We've seen more evidence of Government bungling today with the Australia Network. It shows that this Government can't be trusted with money, can't be trusted to follow due process, and senior members of this Government can't be trusted to be honest with each other about what's happening.However, rather than heighten Australia's presence in the region, recently the AN has brought unverified unflattering reports about the Royal Australian Navy and has stirred up bad feelings with neighbouring Indonesia. (link)
Yesterday, in a radio interview with 2GB's Ray Hadley, Mr Abbott correctly said: (link)
“you would like the national broadcaster to have a rigorous commitment to truth and at least some basic affection for our home team”.
He complained that the ABC “appears to take everyone’s side but our own”