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Abbott poaches ABC journo

Mark Simkin
ABC
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Prime Minister Tony Abbott has appointed former ABC chief political correspondent Mark Simkin as his new chief of communications.

Mr Simkin is a Walkley Award winning journalist, working as ABC’s chief political correspondent for five years, and will now head the prime minister’s press office.

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In an 2012 interview with the Australian Financial Review, Mr Abbott condemned the ABC but praised Mr Simkin and his ABC colleague Chris Uhlmann for their work.

“There is much about the ABC I like and admire,” Mr Abbott said.

“I have a lot of time for [Chris] Uhlmann, I have a lot of time for Mark Simkin. They are, I think, highly professional, even-handed commentators-reporters.”

Mr Abbott has publicly accused the ABC of being left-leaning and biased on several occasions.

“I think there is still this left-of-centre ethos in the ABC and I hope that [ABC managing director] Mark Scott continues to address it,” he told AFR.

In January, Mr Abbott told Ray Hadley on 2GB it was a “problem” the ABC was taking “everybody’s side but our own”.

“You would like the national broadcaster to have a rigorous commitment to truth and at least some basic affection for the home team,” the prime minister said.

A statement from the prime minister’s office said Mr Simkin would take up the position in late January.

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