The Australian Broadcasting Corp. claimed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull chose the date for five by-elections in July, which would conflict with a political conference. Turnbull is a member of the Labour Party.
The elections affect five seats that could later “have a huge impact on the next federal election,” the Guardian reported.
The error was made in a May 25 segment by political correspondent Andrew Probyn. In fact, the date was chosen by the Australian speaker of the house, who is a member of the Liberal Party.
Mitch Fifield, federal communications minister, complained to the ABC over the error, calling it a “Labor lie,” the Guardian reported in early June. “These claims are false. The prime minister did not decide the date for the byelections,” Fifield told the ABC, according to the Guardian. “The date for the by-elections was set by the Speaker, in accordance with the constitution, and acting on the advice of the independent AEC [Australian Electoral Commission].”
In an apology statement cited by Australian media site Mumbrella, the ABC said:
“A statement that the Prime Minister chose the 28 July by-elections date should have either been attributed to sources or presented in the context of explicit denials that he had selected the date. In the absence of such context, the statement was found not to have met ABC standards for accuracy.
“This acknowledgement is consistent with the ABC’s rigorous and transparent processes for editorial oversight. It does not detract from the body of quality reporting and analysis Andrew continues to provide to ABC audiences.”
The ABC also published a correction reading:
Earlier this year, the Australian broadcast regulator the Australian Communications and Media Authority ruled against the ABC’s Probyn for calling former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott the “most destructive politician of his generation.” That comment was impartial, ACMA found.