The crisis currently engulfing the ABC demonstrates clearly that the process for ABC Board appointments, including the appointment of the Chair, is in urgent need of reform in order to depoliticise future appointments and protect the ABC’s independence.
“Revelations that many directors of the ABC’s eight-member board were directly appointed by the minister rather than the merit-based nominations panel are extremely concerning,”
— Ebony Bennett, Deputy Director of The Australia Institute
The Australia Institute has released new research on how the appointment of the new Chair of the ABC Board and future Board appointments could be reformed.
The Australia Institute recommends five specific measures to address the issue:
1 // The process of consultation on the appointment of the Chair should be formalised and expanded to include genuine consultation with a cross-party committee, in addition to the Leader of the Opposition;
2 // A cross-party committee be given responsibility for overseeing the ABC Board appointment process, either replacing the current nomination panel, or overseeing it;
3 // ABC audiences and the wider public to be more involved, with better publicity around upcoming board vacancies and selection criteria;
4 // Consideration should be given to selection of an ‘audience supported board member’ with a public nomination and selection process;
5 // The option for the Minister to bypass the nomination process should be removed, or available only with genuine consultation with the shadow minister.
“Under current arrangements, ABC Board appointments including the appointment of the Chair, has all too easily become a political football,” said Ebony Bennett, deputy director of The Australia Institute.
“Revelations that many directors of the ABC’s eight-member board were directly appointed by the minister rather than the merit-based nominations panel are extremely concerning.
“As we have seen this week, the ABC’s very independence and reputation is now at stake. The appointment of the Chair and future board members must be beyond reproach,” said Ms Bennett.