The Australia Institute surveyed a sample of 1,535 Australians about how the Communications Minister makes appointments to the ABC Board.
The survey was taken between 29 August and 1 September 2023, with nationally representative samples by gender, age group and state/territory. A further 406 South Australians and 127 Queenslanders were sampled to produce more precise results, but weighting was used to ensure that people from these states were not over-represented in national results.
Seven in 10 Australians (70%) would prefer the Communications Minister be limited to appointing candidates who have been shortlisted by an independent selection panel.
Only one in 10 (11%) would prefer that the Communications Minister be able to appoint whomever they like.
Across all voting intentions, two in three or more prefer that the Communications Minister be limited to appointing candidates who have been shortlisted by an independent selection panel (65–71%).
Figure 1: Preference for ABC Board appointments
The results underscore The Australia Institute’s submission to the departmental inquiry into the review of options to support the national broadcasters’ independence.
The Australia Institute recommends:
- Appointment of the ABC Board chair to include genuine consultation with a cross-party committee and Opposition Leader.
- A cross-party committee should be given responsibility for overseeing the ABC Board appointment process.
- ABC audiences and the wider public should be more involved in the appointment process.
- Consideration should be given to selection of an ‘audience supported board member’.
- The option for the minister to bypass the ABC Board member nomination process should be removed, or available only with genuine consultation with the shadow minister
“Australians want an ABC that is free from political interference,” said Bill Browne, Director, Democracy & Accountability Program at the Australia Institute.
“Under the current system, the Communications Minister can bypass the merits-based appointments process when appointing board members, politicising the process.
“Greater transparency and oversight of the board appointment process for the national broadcaster will help secure its independence.”