Senator Eric Abetz – Estimates questions about anti-Semitism definition and the Abraham Accords

photo of Senator Eric Abetz
October 21, 2020

Questioned the ABC’s moderation of anti-Semitic comments on its facebook page, whether the ABC is considering adopting the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism and news coverage of the signing of the Abraham Accords.

Does the ABC currently use or have plans to use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of anti-Semitism to assist in content moderation? Mr Anderson, you may recall I asked you at the last estimates about that. You hadn’t heard of it, and I invited you to consider it for your editorial policy. Where have we got with that?

Whole interaction with Mr David Anderson (ABC Managing Director) during Senate Estimates (Environment and Communications Legislation Committee, Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications Portfolio).

Senator ABETZ: I will move on to the ABC radio feature called The Lone Soldier which aired on 1 August. It was placed on the ABC’s Facebook page and attracted some unfortunate commentary in relation to anti-Semitic comments. It was about people serving in the Israeli army. Can you provide on notice an explanation of the moderating process for the article and the Facebook posts? Why weren’t some of these comments deleted more quickly? Some were retained there for days. Does this meet your expectation on content moderation? And then—not to be taken on notice—I ask: does the ABC currently use or have plans to use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of anti-Semitism to assist in content moderation? Mr Anderson, you may recall I asked you at the last estimates about that. You hadn’t heard of it, and I invited you to consider it for your editorial policy. Where have we got with that?

 

Mr Anderson : Immediately after estimates, we did talk to it. I read about it. Where we’ve got to as to whether or not we’ve included that definition with regard to editorial policies or amended our editorial policies, I don’t believe we have, but—

 

Senator ABETZ: I invite you to reconsider it and come back to us on notice as to why that has, or has not, been adopted. Whilst on Israel, we had these groundbreaking international Abraham Accords, which were broadcast live by many news outlets because of their newsworthiness. Did the ABC broadcast the signing live?

 

Mr Anderson : I will have to get back to you on notice, Senator.

 

Senator ABETZ: Alright—and if not, why not? Is it correct that the news bulletins on this led with outrage at the signing by extreme Muslim elements rather than a celebration of another step towards stability in the Middle East? Please take that on notice.

Link to full Hansard transcript.

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