Senator Anne Ruston – Estimates question about Four Corners program on alleged Israeli targeting of Palestinian children for intelligence gathering

photo of Senator Anne Ruston
February 25, 2014

Questioned whether the ABC approached the Israeli government for comment on a Four Corners program that alleged targeting Palestinian children for intelligence gathering is Israeli policy.

As you can probably imagine, your Four Corners story Stone Cold Justice has received a reasonable amount of response in certain sectors of the Australian community, particularly in relation to allegations that the Israeli government had a new policy with the objective of targeting Palestinian children for the purposes of gathering intelligence. It is a pretty strong statement. When that particular story was being researched and filmed, did the ABC seek any clarification from the Israeli government as to whether that statement was factually correct?

Whole interaction with Mr Mark Scott (ABC Managing Director) during Senate Estimates (Environment and Communications Legislation Committee, Communications Portfolio).

Senator RUSTON: On a similar topic: you made comments that you always attempt to have a balanced approach and fully report. As you can probably imagine, your Four Corners story Stone Cold Justice has received a reasonable amount of response in certain sectors of the Australian community, particularly in relation to allegations that the Israeli government had a new policy with the objective of targeting Palestinian children for the purposes of gathering intelligence. It is a pretty strong statement. When that particular story was being researched and filmed, did the ABC seek any clarification from the Israeli government as to whether that statement was factually correct?

 

Mr Scott : I will have to take that question on notice. The program as you would be aware was a joint venture between the ABC and The Australian newspaper. I believe it was extensively researched over a period of time, but, on the specifics of that, I will have to take that on notice.

 

Senator RUSTON: On that basis, I will give you a number of other questions that have come out of it and if you could do similarly that would be terrific.

 

Mr Scott : Yes. I appreciate that.

 

Senator RUSTON: I understand that Britain’s Independent newspaper also covered a very similar story along the same lines, but they have subsequently run stories that have retracted a number of the allegations that were made. I would be interested to know whether you were aware of those retractions and, if so, whether the ABC has considered broadcasting similar retractions. The other question is in terms of broader policy. In international affairs there are very significant ramifications of making statements, as we found out at our last estimates with the situation of spying on Indonesia. There can be some massively significant and detrimental impacts on a nation. Given the experience of that and the experience of here, where allegations have been made against a sovereign country—some pretty serious allegations by your network—do you factor in those ramifications at that level, given the level that you are targeting with this particular type of story?

 

Mr Scott : We would be very happy to come back with a detailed answer on notice for you on that.

Link to full Hansard transcript.

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