A new front has opened in the Coalition's war on the ABC as government ministers accuse the broadcaster of going soft on its staff in a new pay deal.
The government says the ABC's workplace agreement snubs the Coalition's hardline public sector bargaining policy being pushed by Employment Minister Michaelia Cash.
ABC management and the government are now in open conflict: the federal workplace authority insists the broadcaster is bound by the rules but the ABC has gone ahead and agreed its own deal.
ABC staff voted by a margin of 71 per cent to accept the three-year deal, which includes pay rises of 2 per cent each year.
The pay rises are broadly in line with what is on offer to public servants but well in excess of the 1.25 per cent offered to journalists on Rupert Murdoch's Herald-Sun, Daily Telegraph and The Australian.
But the ABC deal also includes back pay, a $500 sign-on bonus, a two-week boost to paid parental leave and a new provision for domestic violence leave.
All those conditions are expressly forbidden or have been ruled out under the Abbott-era bargaining policy, which is fuelling workplace disputes across the Australian Public Service that are now well into their third year.
But the public service's workplace authority and enforcer of the government's hardline stance, the Public Service Commission, said on Friday the ABC was bound by the policy and had acted in defiance of the government when it put the enterprise agreement to a vote.
"The agreement provides wage outcomes and conditions that are outside, and in breach of, the government's workplace bargaining policy 2015," Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd said.
"Management of the ABC asserted that it was not subject to the bargaining policy.
"This is not the position of the government or the Public Service Commissioner and it should be noted that other comparable Commonwealth bodies, such as SBS, have complied with the policy."
Senator Cash and Communications Minister Mitch Fifield did not respond to requests for comment on the ABC's new pay deal.
But Mr Lloyd said "ministers" had made their displeasure felt to ABC management when they learned of the terms and conditions that had been accepted by the broadcaster's staff.
"Ministers and myself have conveyed to the ABC's management our utmost concern at the position they have adopted in breaching the policy," Mr Lloyd said.
The commissioner warned public servants who had still not accepted deals offered under the policy not to get their hopes up on the back of the ABC deal.
"This agreement in no way creates a precedent for bargaining in other agencies. The bargaining policy remains intact," he said.
"Agreements will only be approved where they comply with the policy."
Speaking before Mr Lloyd issued his statement, an ABC spokesman said the broadcaster had considered the bargaining policy in its talks with its workforce.
"The ABC conducted its bargaining in accordance with its legislative obligations and the offer aligned with key elements of the government's workplace bargaining policy, including a 2 per cent pay increase per annum over three years," he said.
The journalists' union, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, said on Friday ABC employees would need to work hard for their money.
"It's important to note that this agreement has been reached against a backdrop of deep cuts to staff numbers and resources at the ABC, and an environment of increased work intensification," its chief executive, Paul Murphy, said.