ABC’s ‘absurd waste’ of taxpayer money on Louise Milligan’s personal defamation bill

Digital Editor Jack Houghton says ABC staff should be forced to treat tweeting as they would publishing a story following the national broadcaster’s “absurd waste” of taxpayer money on Louise Milligan’s personal defamation bill.

The ABC is paying Liberal MP Andrew Laming $79,000 plus legal costs over defamatory remarks made by Milligan in a series of tweets from March 28 this year.

In the tweets, Milligan suggested Laming had taken a photo of a woman “under her skirt” in Brisbane in 2019.

Mr Houghton noted Milligan was “not acting in an official capacity” when she made the tweets, which came from her own private Twitter account.

The ABC has released a statement defending its decision to cover Milligan’s legal costs, citing “particular and exceptional circumstances”, but the national broadcaster refused to elaborate on what those circumstances where.

“A tweet is an act of publishing, and it seems reasonable for me to suggest that if we the public foot the bill for the legal protection of those tweets, then staff should stop tweeting and trying to be famous,” Mr Houghton said.

“We asked the ABC whether Milligan had special privileges that other journalists do not get, and it declined to comment, and that’s almost the worst thing about this whole mess.

“No transparency, consistency, or humility.”