Why taking it for granted is no longer an option (2022)

co-authored with Matthew Ricketson


For the past nine years, the ABC has been besieged. Its funding has been slashed. It has been assailed by complaints from ministers and prime ministers. Its board has been stacked with political appointees. It has been relentlessly attacked by commercial media outlets. And it has endured crisis after crisis.

Who Needs the ABC? charts how, in its 90th year, the best-trusted news organisation in Australia arrived at its current plight: doing the most it ever has, with less than it needs, under a barrage of constant criticism.

This book examines the profound changes that have swept through the Australian media, technology, and political landscapes in the past decade, and explores the tense relationship between the ABC and governments of both stripes over the last 40 years. It dispels any complacency about the ABC’s future by charting the very real threat now posed by the Liberal–National Party coalition, and the damage that it has done to the ABC while in office.

Who Needs the ABC? identifies the vital role that the ABC plays in Australia today: in its award-winning journalism, in its vast array of cultural programming on television, on radio, and online, and the comprehensive service it provides to people across the country.

At a time when the truth has to vie with obfuscation and misinformation, this book offers a rejoinder to the ABC’s critics, points to solutions that will see the ABC thrive, and answers the question posed here: Who Needs the ABC? We all do.


‘In this measured, rigorous analysis, Ricketson and Mullins show why we can’t take public broadcasting for granted and why politicians need to recognise that it’s our ABC, not an institution beholden to them.’
— Fiona Capp, Sydney Morning Herald

‘Amid a noisy, chaotic media landscape comes this clear-eyed analysis showing why a strong ABC is a priceless national asset, how it is under threat, and the need to defend and strengthen it.’
— Mark Scott

‘Ricketson and Mullins are unsentimental in their portrayal of the Corporation (despite their evident love for it) and its vicissitudes; in being so they make a compelling argument that we all need the ABC.’
— Gordon Kerry, Loudmouth

‘A compelling explanation of the combination of ideology and commercial self-interest which threatens the ABC and why they must not succeed.’
— Judith Brett

‘A book worth reading.’
— Greg Wilesmith, ABC Alumni

‘An eloquent and spirited argument for why we need public broadcasting more than ever.’
— Frank Bongiorno

‘This is the book our nation needs now … Read it and fight!’
— Claire Wright


Radio interview with Phillip Adams, ABC Late Night Live, 31 March 2022

In conversation with Catherine Graham, Avid Reader Bookshop, Brisbane, 12 April 2022

In conversation with Carol Stuart, ABC Friends (Victoria), online, 29 April 2022