MEDIA RELEASE - STATEMENT ON ABC CHAIRPERSON - 28 FEBRUARY 2019

Labor congratulates Ita Buttrose AO OBE on the announcement that she will be recommended for appointment as ABC Chairperson.  The ABC is one of Australia’s most trusted institutions, and the role of Chair in maintaining the independence and integrity of the Corporation is critical.

After years of cuts to the ABC under the Liberal Party, now more than ever, Australia needs a successful ABC, and Labor wishes Ms Buttrose well in the role.

Australians value transparency and there’s no doubt that the recruitment process has been tainted by political interference from the outset:

  • This vacancy arose in the first place through the political interference scandal which shocked the nation and is still being examined.
  • In the face of a Senate Inquiry into allegations of political interference in the ABC, the Liberals ran a closed tender process to award Korn Ferry, whose Head of Board services is a major Liberal Party donor, the $163,000 contract to provide recruitment services.
  • This company received taxpayers’ money for nothing, given the successful candidate did not even apply for the position and was not asked to do so.
  • In spite of the legal requirement to consult the Leader of the Opposition on the selection of the Chair, Scott Morrison refused Bill Shorten’s appeal for a bipartisan approach, failed to commit to genuine consultation and denied Labor’s request for a briefing on the Nomination Panel process.
  • Scott Morrison ignored the merit-based recommendations of the Nomination Panel and reduced the selection process to a week-long media circus of leaks.

Labor introduced the merit-based appointment process “to end political interference in the ABC by introducing a transparent and democratic board appointment process” and “improve governance in our national broadcasters” (Minister’s Second Reading Speech, National Broadcasting Legislation Amendment Bill 2010).

Scott Morrison’s contempt for this simple process exemplifies the chaos and ineptitude of the Liberals.

The Liberals came to government on the promise of no cuts to the ABC. That was a lie.

They’ve ripped hundreds of millions of dollars out of the ABC, meddled in its affairs and launched relentless ideological attacks on public broadcasting, including pointless inquiries and complaints from a Minister for Communications who is also a member of the IPA that wants the ABC privatised.

The evidence is clear: you can have a strong and independent ABC, or a Liberal Government. You can’t have both.