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Auditor-General asked to probe ABC defamation payment


The Auditor-General has been called on to examine the ABC’s use of taxpayers’ money in settling private defamation suits for its employees.

Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz has today referred the payment to the Auditor-General seeking an investigation into the propriety of the approximately $130,000 paid in damages and legal costs to Andrew Laming MP for defamation together with covering the journalist’s legal costs.

The defamation was unrelated to the journalist’s work tasks and occurred on her private social media platform. The Australian reported that according to the journalist’s lawyer, the journalist “still does not admit ‘liability’ for any wrongdoing, despite deleting an offending social media post about Dr Laming.”

In a statement, the ABC said it “decided to pay Ms Milligan’s costs in this matter, a decision arising from particular and exceptional circumstances.”

“The ABC’s attempt to justify these substantial costs and damages payment to their own ‘ABC luvvies’ from public funds has clearly failed the public opinion test,” said Senator Abetz.

“It is now time to test the legality and appropriateness of these substantial payments of taxpayer funds for private purposes. I have therefore written to the Auditor-General seeking his determination.”

“The ABC decided to pay the journalist’s costs because of ‘particular and exceptional circumstances’ yet it refuses to elaborate on what these circumstances are. Taxpayers should know why in excess of $130,000 of their money is being spent on legal costs for privately sent tweets.”

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