A Senate estimates hearing on Tuesday saw SBS come under fire by Liberal National Party Senator Matt Canavan, who accused the public broadcaster of protesting Australian law by taking a political stand on the issue of same-sex marriage.
Canavan accused SBS of taking sides on what is a contentious political issue, when it should remain neutral. SBS’s logo was published earlier this year in newspaper advertisement in support of same-sex marriage, featuring alongside other prominent brands, such as Google, Qantas, Optus and the big banks.
Canavan addressed SBS’s managing director Michael Ebeid, claiming it’s “an abuse” of his position to have come to a “corporate position based on no legal advice and little understanding” of the various opinions surrounding the issue, “other than ‘it’s all just about equality’.”
He also asked, “Why is it appropriate for a public broadcaster to involve themselves in a political campaign on issues such as this?”
Canavan went as far as to suggest that Ebeid is acting against Australian law, because he is “an employee of the Commonwealth of Australia, and the Commonwealth of Australia has a Marriage Act saying marriage is between a man and a woman.”
Coalition Senator Chris Back also called out the broadcaster, questioning how it would be able to provide balanced news coverage in the event of a plebiscite on same-sex marriage.
Ebeid responded to the comments, saying that he didn’t believe same-sex marriage was a political issue, rather “a societal issue”. He said that SBS would continue to provide balanced reporting.
“SBS, in its whole foundation and purpose of being, is about promoting cultural diversity and social cohesion. We are an organisation that does everything we can to support equality,” Ebeid said.
Read more at theguardian.com.au
What do you think of both Senator Canavan and Michael Ebedi’s comments?