A new report from The Australia Institute will be launched today at the ABC Friends National Campaign forum – ‘What do Australians expect from their ABC?’ 

– Download full report below – 

The report ‘No Politics at Aunty’s Table’ analyses the governance of the ABC, how some aspects have become political battlefields and ways to depoliticise them. 

“The ABC Charter, the ABC Board and ABC funding all too easily become political footballs, kicked around by governments of both stripes,” Executive Director of The Australia Institute, Ben Oquist said. 

“Debate around whether the ABC fulfils its charter, if the board is competent or if we are getting value for money are healthy things. What is not healthy is attempts to move the goalposts on how the ABC is governed for party political or commercial advantage,” Oquist said. 

The report recommends that the ABC Charter be added to the Australian constitution, in order to effectively remove it from the political battlefield.  This could be achieved if major constitutional reform occurs in a move toward a republic. 

“If any party is successful in changing the ABC charter for political advantage it will entice the next government to do the same, which could lead to a toxic culture pendulum swinging from election to election,” report author and former ABC manager Fergus Pitt said. 

The ABC Board has long been treated with contempt, with Coalition and Labor governments making blatantly partisan appointments. 

“In addition to retaining the staff appointment, the ABC should consider a ‘viewer supported board member’, giving some say in appointments to arguably the most important stakeholders – viewers/voters – who currently have no direct input into the process. 

“The funding of the ABC is the clearest, and most blunt of instruments of political pressure. Currently, governments can completely ignore the ABC’s triennial funding cycle at minimal political cost. 

“Incorporating greater public input into the process through a call for submissions and public forums with the wider community would see the ABC budget better reflect the needs and wants of viewers and voters,” Fergus Pitt said.

Full report