At least four potential witnesses to the Australian Broadcasting Authority’s (ABA) inquiry into Melbourne radio station 3AW have indicated that they will be boycotting the inquiry. Included among these are corruption author and whistleblower Raymond Hoser, whose complaint to the ABA on 25 October last year sparked the current inquiry.
On Monday 13 March the ABA phoned Raymond Hoser seeking his further input into the inquiry.
Hoser refused to provide further information unless and until the ABA makes public its deliberations so far, including details of its interviews with Steve Price, Graham Mott, Bruce Mansfield and others they have spoken to behind closed doors.
Hoser said ‘It seems somewhat strange that the ABA is conducting its so-called inquiry into 3AW behind closed doors and in secret, whereas the inquiries into 2UE were open and public.’
Three other witnesses, one from Glenroy, one from Murrumbeena and another from Geelong were also expected to provide further evidence of alleged corruption and improper practices at radio 3AW. All of them have also said that they will not appear before the ABA unless and until they make their current hearings public.
Hoser says ‘If the ABA don’t investigate 3AW’s practices, I will’. He further said, ‘The evidence of allegedly improper practices at 3AW, is by and large not in dispute. The main issue here is if and when the public will find out what has gone on, as well as whether or not their actions are publicly acceptable in terms of modern radio broadcasting ’. Hoser further said ‘If the ABA choose not divulge the goings on at 3AW, I may well do so in a future book.’
Hoser’s earlier corruption books have included the best sellers Victoria Police Corruption and Smuggled: The Underground Trade in Australia’s Wildlife. His books have previously sparked federal corruption investigations, at least one Royal Commission and caused various officials to be removed from their positions. The books have also forced governments to rewrite laws in several states. He has so far won all the defamation actions ever brought against him, relying on truth as the main defence.
It had been speculated that because there is a Federal Liberal Government and 3AW has close Liberal ties, (Chairman Peter Nixon was a Fraser Government MP) that the ABA may have decided it would be politically prudent to go soft on the radio station in order to protect their own political interests. However Hoser is quick to point out that this speculation is merely conjecture at the moment, although he adds ‘The inference is quite reasonable’.
Whistleblowers Australia’s Victorian and NSW branches have backed the call for the ABA’s deliberations into 3AW to be made public. NSW spokesman and lawyer Alex Tees said ‘Any ABA inquiry of this nature that is behind closed doors, appears to be in clear violation of Section 182 of the ABA’s own Broadcast Services Act. That is why they were forced to conduct their 2UE probe in public’. Tees does not believe that the ABA’s assertion that it can invoke Section 175 of the Act to suppress proceedings is valid and he said he thought it would fail if actually tested by the courts.
Tees went on to say ‘I think any reasonable member of the public must call into question the integrity of the ABA for wanting to conduct this inquiry behind closed doors and in secret.’
Hoser summed up saying ‘Assuming that 3AW has integrity, then you would think that they would welcome the probe into them to be made public and be done rigorously and properly so as to remove any doubts about them and clear the air once and for all’.
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