Skip to content

Credlin, Sky News, 8 November 2022

Peta Credlin: You’ve had the boss of the ABC, David Anderson, in Senate estimates today Sarah. You’ve asked her about the speech from Louise Milligan to a Women Lawyers Gala Dinner last month. What’s the issue with the speech and why has it landed her in hot water?

Senator Henderson: Peta good evening and great to join you, and yes David Anderson was in the dock so to speak, in Senate estimates today. I sought a range of information from the ABC, including in relation to a highly paid staff, their remuneration and also the gender, the role, the location and the salary band of all ABC employees, so we could better understand how something like $538 million is being spent at the ABC in wages and salaries.

But in relation to the speech given by Louise Milligan, I believe that’s brought the ABC into disrepute. The ACT Bar Council has written to the ACT Women Lawyers and said the speech caused profound offence and caused considerable distress. We don’t quite know why because Ms Milligan won’t hand over the speech and now the ABC has committed to providing the committee with the speech but it is obviously deeply concerning. The ABC gave Ms Milligan permission to do this particular event. She was paid for it but all ABC reporters, of course, need to ensure that they are not conducting themselves in a way which brings the ABC into disrepute and I certainly think that it was arguable that Ms Milligan certainly did so in this case.

Peta Credlin: Just so people at home can follow, what’s been reported that she said in the speech because there’s been stuff in the papers, particularly in relation to criminal defence barristers?

Senator Henderson: Well, that’s right. What has been reported this was Janet Albrechtsen who wrote a story in The Australian last week, and I’ll just quote from the article, and she said, “Milligan, say these lawyers, claimed that women would not lie about sexual violence and that they should be called victim survivors, not complainants.” She was really, I think, being very denigrating about defence barristers, criminal barristers who defend those who are charged with sexual who are, you know, defending those who are charged with sexual assault. And apparently some people, some barristers were in tears. So it did cause a lot of distress. And frankly, I do believe the ABC is a publicly funded organisation. It is accountable to the Australian people and to the Parliament and of course that includes reporters when they don’t do the right thing and I don’t think by the reports so far it appears that Ms Milligan has not done the right thing.

And amazingly Peta, when I was prosecuting this issue in estimates today, Ms Milligan started tweeting, making false claims about what I was saying in the Senate during the time…

Peta Credlin: I think I’ve got it, I’ll put them on a screen. We’ll put them on the screen. Yeh she’s saying what you just said now in parliament is completely fictitious and the opposite of what I said in my speech. Well, she’s been asked again and again and again, and put your speech out publicly, Louise Milligan, and we can have a look at whether there’s an inaccuracy there.

Senator Henderson: Well, that’s right and in fact, what I think Louise Milligan didn’t like, Peta, was that I started to read excerpts from the ACT Bar Association letter and including lines such as “…unfortunately a significant number of our members who attended were deeply offended and distressed by the speech given by Ms Louise Milligan.” Now it appears Louise Milligan has said – oh no, I was thanked for my speech and given some sort of story tip off – but I didn’t refute that. I just simply read from a factual letter from the ACT Bar Association, raising very serious concerns and of course, Louise Milligan has decided to keep her speech or any recording of the speech a secret but I am very pleased that the ABC is now going to provide that, including further information in relation to how it came to be that Louise Milligan apparently got some time off to go to Canberra. I mean, the managing director says he doesn’t believe any ABC resources were used by Ms Milligan but we’ll wait and see.

Peta Credlin: And just quickly before we go, I presume when you asked for all the salary information, be terrific if we get it, I think that’ll be one of the first times it’s been in the public domain. That was a question on notice. They’ll come back to you with that detail?

Senator Henderson: Well, in fact, in relation to the highly paid staff, they have taken a public interest immunity claim. So the ABC is refusing at this stage to disclose that information. They have or are considering the other part of my request. Our committee is considering whether we will accept the PII claim. I certainly won’t be. I believe the ABC does need to disclose how it spends this money, which of course is valuable taxpayer dollars, more than half a billion dollars a year.

Share this