Imagine Australia without the ABC. Imagine political debate without the ABC. Imagine investigative journalism or Australian drama or the arts without the ABC.
Because the Government's reaction to the comments by Zaky Mallah on Monday night showed it is intent on intimidating one of our few independent institutions.
Zaky Mallad was the first person charged with and then aquitted under Howard's 2005 anti-terrorism laws. On Q & A on Monday, Mr Mallah asked what would have happened to him under the Government's proposals to have the Minister decide his citizenship. A salient question.
Liberal MP Mr Ciobo said he would be comfortable blocking someone with Mallah’s past from living in Australia. He obviously thinks being aquitted does not matter.
Mallah retorted that Mr Ciobo’s comments were the reason young Islamic people were prepared to leave Australia and fight for ISIS. He has a point; the constant hostility from the Government probably doesn't help. But he used the words "justified" and "Isis" in the same sentence and all hell broke loose.
He then helpfully threw a bucket of fuel on the fire by tweeting that “I would pay to see that Minister dumped on ISIS territory in Iraq!"
Controversial statements on national television by someone accused (but acquitted) of terrorism warrant a certain amount of excited discussion, but what followed shows that Australia is teetering on the edge of authoritarianism.
The Prime Minister has accused the ABC of "sedition" and "treason". Apparently critical comments by insignificant, undesirable people are now a threat to national security.
It is worth noting here that Mr Mallah has also appealed to Muslims not to join ISIS when he appeared on "The Project" so perhaps he is not so undesirable after all.
Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, obviously over his brief flirtation with the rule of law, is pressuring the ABC to work with the Australian Federal Police to consider the safety of future audiences and stated that the "idea that there was no physical security checks on that audience or that this man was allowed into it is extraordinary”.
Hang on - If the police are allowing someone dangerous to wander around, they should be reviewed, not the ABC. If the person in question is free to be in the community it is fair to assume he is not dangerous.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has said: “No one should be giving a platform for these sorts of extremist views.” Well firstly there's this little thing called freedom of speech. And secondly Mr Mallah didn't say anything extreme on Q & A. He made a reasonable point badly.
But Mr Mallah is not significant - he is just the opportunity for the Government to commence a campaign of intimidating the ABC. The aim is to deter it from scrutinising the Government.
The Opposition is, as usual, falling into line. And the media as a whole have fallen into a feeding frenzy which, when it subsides, will leave the population more insecure and therefore more compliant.
But coming back to the ABC. The Government does not necessarily want to cut the ABC, but it does want to cow it.
It wants a safe, consensual, conservative ABC that eschews probing journalism and searching drama. It doesn't want cutting edge arts. It wants ANZACs and sport and soap. It's the Chinese Communist model of nation-building.
It doesn't want our ABC - it wants their ABC. The ABC where you pay 8 cents a day to be told what to think.
If you don't want that, contact your local Liberal MP or the Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and tell them to back off. Contact your local Labor MP or Labor Leader Bill Shorten and tell them to "man up" (excuse the sexism) and stand up for the ABC. And write to the papers; ring your local radio station.
Whatever you do, don't just tell your friends on Facebook how terrible it all is. They probably agree with you anyway. Get off your butt and communicate where it matters. It is okay to use Facebook to encourage people on Facebook to get off Facebook and do something. In fact it is vital.
As the saying goes - the situation is desperate. We must act immediately!