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Former media watch host Stuart Littlemore QC says the ABC’s new website investigating coal seam gas is factually wrong, biased, and in breach of the broadcaster’s code of conduct.
In a scathing opinion published by The Australian, Littlemore accused the ABC of misrepresenting the industry.
“My opinion is that the ABC’s code was breached by, probably, the website’s publication of at least three frankly false representations of fact, and by the inescapable inference that the motivation for such tendentious misstatements of fact was bias on the part of the persons producing the matter at issue,” he said.
Littlemore said the ABC’s initial estimate of the industry’s water use was four times the correct figure and “offensively inaccurate” if a source for the fact could not be supplied.
He also said the original figure of approved wells, which was reported at 40,000, was incorrect and “unreasonable”.
The ABC has since amended the figure, which it claims was informed by a government estimate.
Littlemore’s denouncement comes after the APPEA last month slammed the website as being “riddled with factual errors”.
It also criticised the ABC for not giving the industry a right of reply over the figures.
The APPEA launched a formal complaint over the website, and said the ABC’s coal seam gas coverage was “embarrassing”.
According to The Australian the ABC said it had made two amendments to “regrettable” inaccuracies.
It said the mistakes were unintentional and were quickly noted on the website.
Littlemore is currently employed by the APPEA to provide an independent opinion on coal seam gas and according to The Australian he is paid several thousand dollars for the service.