The following is a transcript of Topher’s interview with Science Correspondent Joanne Nova from Episode 30 of The Aussie Wire News which aired on the 10th of August 2023.
Topher: The national broadcaster costs Australian taxpayers over $1.1 billion every single year. And I think it’s fair for us to ask, what do we get in return for our money?
Well, some of the ABC staff seem to get a few perks, such as flights across the country from the East Coast all the way to Perth, to cover a story that has raised a lot of eyebrows and even more questions.
Our science correspondent, Joanne Nova, joins us from Western Australia to discuss this story. Not quite a breaking story, it broke about a week ago (at the time of filming), but it is a developing story. We’re seeing this crazy situation, Joanne, where the ABC have been accused of having known in advance about criminal activities, and instead of reporting it to the cops, they tried to have a camera crew on hand to catch it. Tell us the story.
Joanne: Look, it’s the most bizarre thing.
It’s hard to believe that it unfolded the way it did, but the chief of Woodside, Ms. O’Neill, Meg O’Neill, lives in City Beach in Perth and woke up, I think, Monday morning last week to people harassing and menacing her on her front door.
They had chains and padlocks. They were going to lock her in to prevent her leaving. And they had been out and scoped the house the day before, surveilled it from both the front and the back to see when she left home for work, which was about ten to seven in the morning.
And so they turned up then, this small bunch of activists, incredibly, with an ABC unit in tow, full cameramen and everything, at her home.
And to put this in perspective, I tried to think of the last time that people were really harassed in home, and I’m back to the days of the Mafia. That’s the kind of thing they would do. “We know where you live”. And so that’s where this is at.
And the reason a science correspondent is discussing this is, of course, because it was climate change. And the whole idea that these activists were saying the CEO of Woodside Energy will, in their words, emit 6 billion tons of carbon over the next 50 years.
And that was the justification for going to someone’s house with her partner and her teenage daughter. And this is before dawn in Perth, remember, because the sunrise is at 07:05 at the moment. So they were there before dawn. And wouldn’t you know it, the ABC had a crew, too. And Topher, the most extraordinary thing was that this crew was flown from Sydney.
Topher: It’s an incredible story.
Now, this was Miss Meg O’Neill’s response, and I think she’s spot on here. “This was designed to threaten me and my daughter in our home”. And for me, that takes what these activists have done out of the realm of protest land into the realm of criminality. I think the mafia type of analogy is not actually an unfair one. They have literally gone out of their way to engage in criminal activity, but in a sense, we kind of expect that from the activists. We don’t expect the ABC to join in.
Now, there’s a couple of interesting responses from The Guardian here as they’ve tracked the story over various days. So press freedom advocates have actually come out in The Guardian, as reported by The Guardian, supporting the ABC and supporting flying a crew from one side of the country to another to cover known criminal activity on someone’s private residence on behalf of some climate activists.
We have another response here. The ABC actually defending now, this was early on defending the Four Corners crew who went to that planned protest at the CEO’s home.
This raises an enormous amount of questions, not least of all just basic professionalism and journalistic integrity, does it not?
Joanne: The ABC’s excuse when faced with it on the day and let’s put this in perspective on the night that this happened or the morning that it happened, it was the biggest breaking news in WA. It was covered that evening in the news by every channel here except the ABC. The only channel that had a TV crew onsite on the morning didn’t mention it at all. They must have gone back to their offices and, you know, we need our lawyers and we need to start talking.
And their excuse was just hilarious that they came out and said, look, we flew over there, but we didn’t know which house we were going to or that it was a private home.
What happened to Google Earth searches, finding out where you’re flying a five hour flight and a whole camera crew?
Really, it doesn’t wash well at best.
Topher: That speaks of complete carelessness when it comes to spending taxpayers dollars if they are flying them halfway or all the way across the country without really knowing what they’re actually getting up to.
But the reality is that at least two of the activists that were a part of that stunt were actually already out on bail. They were known to be the kinds of people that would engage in these kinds of very marginal, let’s just say, or I’ll be nice very, marginal kinds of forms of protest. And may I say, with all due respect, not necessarily the sharpest tools in the shed. Here is one of them being quoted in the West Australian immediately afterwards, having been asked about what she was doing and being asked questions about climate change. Her response was, “don’t ask me, I’m just a university student”. Well, no, I’m sorry. If you’re just a university student, you’d be at university or doing university student things. You wouldn’t be showing up to the private residence of the CEO of Woodside And engaging in that kind of activism.
There appears to me at the very least, to be a stridency that’s started to come in. We see this with “just stop oil”. We see this with stunts like this. Is this a new phase of the climate change alarmist movement that we’re seeing here? Or is this an aberration that we can hope will disappear in due course?
Joanne: No, this is a trend that’s been going on for years.When you’ve run out of evidence, when you can’t persuade people through an honest debate and an argument, all that’s left is bullying, intimidation, name calling. They’ve been doing this all along. I mean, how long have they been calling us climate deniers for merely asking to see the evidence on CO2? So this is the way it always ends. Except the intimidation keeps getting worse if they’re still in a position of power and they haven’t been pulled back. And here we say, in the case of what you’re doing, the rise of new media, because people are just fed up with watching these kind of stories happen on the news and not seeing what they would consider a rational response.
Consider what these activists were doing. It was literally a siege. They were kind of planning to hold her hostage in her own home with her teenage daughter. Now, just think for a minute. Imagine that you had warning that someone was going to go to the local school and hold students hostage in it. What’s the right thing to do? Should I call the police and let them know this is coming and it could be potentially a criminal act? Or should I go along with the cameras to film it? Every adult in the room except the ABC knows the answer to this.
Topher: I’d be reaching for my phone and saying, “Hey, can I live stream it while you break the law?” Of course, that’s what every reasonable adult will do, wouldn’t they? It’s obviously what the ABC seems to think.
Look, this is an extraordinary story. This is our tax dollars at work.
You look like you’ve got one last thing you want to say there before we close the story, Jo.
Joanne: Look, it’s become a cult. And the cult following, they can justify anything because the planet is at stake. But this makes them quite scary people. And this is why we desperately need more of that pushback. Of that “hang on a minute, think about what you’re doing” kind of conversation.
And the media is culpable here because the media does not put, I’m talking about the mainstream media of course, they don’t put that other side of the story forward. So these people, who may have been well meaning underneath it all, they may just be narcissistic attention seekers. They don’t get any of that rational kind of input that slows them down and makes them think twice. And here’s the really scary thing. Those people are the editors of the ABC who sent, allegedly, a Four Corners team out on a five hour plane trip to do something which was pretty obviously potentially a criminal act with people at a private home who were on bail. One of them for aggravated burglary with intent. I mean, these are not people you would normally just chuff a team off to film what they were doing next at dawn.
Topher: Well, that’s our taxpayers dollars at work, thanks to the ABC.
Well, here at the Aussie Wire, we promise we are not going to fly crews from one side of the country to another to cover criminal activity in advance, knowing in advance that it’s going to be criminal activity. Thank you so much, Jo Nova, for bringing us this story.
You can watch this segment of The Aussie Wire News here.