ABC Board

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The ABC Board is the body responsible for the operations of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.[1] It is made up of five to seven directors chosen by the Federal government, a Managing Director appointed by the Board itself, and until 2006 a staff-elected director.[1][2][3]

Members[edit]

The Governor-General, on the recommendation of the Federal Government, appoints members, as specified in the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983.[4][5] The Act specifies that Directors must be experienced in broadcasting, communications or management, or have expertise in financial or technical matters, or have cultural or other interests relevant to the provision of broadcasting services.[6] Each director serves a term of five years, with eligibility for reappointment at the end of this term.[6]

Directors are expected to follow the ABC Board Protocol, which stipulates responsibilities, expectations, rights, and benefits.[6]

Board members since 1 April 2012:[7]

The board maintains an Advisory Council, which advises it on matters concerning the Corporation's programming.[10] The Council is made up of twelve members, broadly representative of the Australian community, which serve staggered four-year terms. Vacancies are advertised in September–October each year. The Advisory Council's current Chair is Dr Jane Munro, Head of International House at the University of Melbourne.[10]

Appointment[edit]

ABC board members are currently directly appointed by the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

Appointments to the board made by successive governments have often resulted in criticism of the appointees' political affiliation, background, and relative merit.[11][12] Past appointments have associated directly with political parties - five of fourteen appointed chairmen have been accused of political affiliation or friendship, include Richard Downing and Ken Myer (both of whom publicly endorsed the Australian Labor Party at the 1972 election[13]), as well as Sir Henry Bland. David Hill was close to Neville Wran, while Donald McDonald was considered to be a close friend of John Howard.[14]

From 2003 the Howard government also made several controversial appointments to the ABC Board, including prominent ABC critic Janet Albrechtsen,[15] , Ron Brunton,[16] and Keith Windschuttle.[12][17]

During their 2007 federal election campaign, Labor announced plans to introduce a new system, similar to that of the BBC, for appointing members to the board.[18][19] Under the new system, ABC candidates would be considered by a panel established "at arm's length" from the Communications Minister.[20] If the Minister chose someone not on the panel's shortlist, they would be required to justify this to parliament. The ABC Chairman would be nominated by the Prime Minister and endorsed by the Leader of the Opposition.[18] The committee has not yet been announced.[21]

Past Managers[edit]

Past Board members[edit]

Criticism[edit]

Appointments to the ABC Board made by successive governments have often resulted in criticism of the appointees' political affiliation, background, and relative merit.[11][12] Past appointments have associated directly with political parties - five of fourteen appointed chairmen have been accused of political affiliation or friendship, include Richard Downing and Ken Myer (both of whom publicly endorsed the Australian Labor Party at the 1972 election,[13] as well as Sir Henry Bland (an adviser to Malcolm Fraser during the 1976 election campaign[citation needed]). David Hill was close to Neville Wran, while Donald McDonald was considered to be a close friend of John Howard.[14]

In the past, appointments of commissioners and directors also drew criticism.[12] In the 1932, a majority of the commissioners were publicly conservative.[citation needed] This continued to 1942, when the Curtin and Chifley administrations appointed a more 'politically balanced' commission.[citation needed]

Once elected to power, Labor prime minister Whitlam replaced the entire board - appointed by Liberal governments over the previous 23 years - with supporters of the Labor Party.[14] His successor, Malcolm Fraser, attempted unsuccessfully to take similar action by replacing the board with politically conservative commissioners in 1976,[14] but was only able to make new appointments by adding two extra director positions onto the board.[14][22]

In 1983, Minister John Button referred proposed board appointments to an all-party committee for the first time.[14] This practice was discontinued before the end of Paul Keating's government.[14] Alan Ramsey, in a 1996 article for the Sydney Morning Herald noted that:

A 2006 restructure of the ABC board, undertaken by the Howard government, abolished the position of staff elected director.[3] The elected director was previously nominated and elected by employees of the ABC. Nominees for this director office were to have been employed at least 24 hours a week by the ABC and the term of office was two years with eligibility for re-election to a second term. An elected director was not eligible for a third term of office. The last elected director was broadcaster Ramona Koval who had occupied the position for the previous four years amid ongoing intense controversy.[26] This drew criticism from the Labor Party, Australian Greens, and the Democrats, who saw it as a 'revenge measure' taken against the Corporation.[27][28]

Labor announced plans to make the system of appointments to the board independent of the Minister for Communications in July, 2007.[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Establishment of Australian Broadcasting Corporation Board". ScalePlus. Archived from the original on 2006-05-30. Retrieved 2006-11-26. 
  2. ^ "Membership of Board". ScalePlus. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-10-05. 
  3. ^ a b "Restructure of ABC Board". Website of Senator the Hon Helen Coonan, Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. Archived from the original on 2007-08-08. Retrieved 2007-11-27. 
  4. ^ "About the board". ABC Online. Retrieved 2006-11-26. 
  5. ^ "Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983". Attorney-General's Department. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-10-01. 
  6. ^ a b c "Membership of Board". Scaleplus. Archived from the original on 2006-05-30. Retrieved 2006-11-26. 
  7. ^ "ABC Board Members". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2012-04-07. 
  8. ^ "Spigelman confirmed as new ABC chairman". ABC News. 8 March 2012. Retrieved 7 April 2012. 
  9. ^ "Mr Mark Scott AO". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2012-04-07. 
  10. ^ a b "The ABC Advisory Council". ABC Online. Archived from the original on 2 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-29. 
  11. ^ a b Above Board? "Methods of appointment to the ABC Board: Chapter 2 - The selection criteria - who should be on the board?". Senate Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Committee, ABC Board inquiry report. Parliament of Australia. September 2001. Retrieved 2006-11-04. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f "Whose ABC?". ABC Radio. 2006-08-26. Retrieved 2007-10-13. 
  13. ^ a b Inglis, Kenneth Stanley (2006). Whose ABC? The Australian Broadcasting Corporation 1983-2006. Melbourne, Victoria: Black Inc. ISBN 1-86395-189-X. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f g Inglis, Ken (2002-11-13). "Aunty at seventy: a health report on the ABC" (pdf). Friends of the ABC. 
  15. ^ Caldwell, Alison (2005-02-24). "ABC critic appointed to board of directors". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2006-11-28. 
  16. ^ Marriner, Cosima (2003-05-03). "Anthropologist on ABC Board". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2006-11-28. 
  17. ^ Colvin, Mark (2006-06-15). "Govt appoints ABC board members". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 19 October 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-28. 
  18. ^ a b c "Australian Labor Party: ABC Board" (Press release). Australian Labor Party. 2007-06-05. 
  19. ^ Michael Sainsbury (2007-12-07). "Conroy sets ABC collision course". The Australian. 
  20. ^ "Independent panel to select ABC board to be named". The Australian. 2007-02-18. [dead link]
  21. ^ "Free podcasts don't suit ABC's results". news.com.au. 2008-09-18. 
  22. ^ a b c "Submission to the Senate Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts References Committee" (pdf). Friends of the ABC. 11 August 2001. Archived from the original on 2006-06-14. Retrieved 2006-12-06. 
  23. ^ "Agency notes for agency CA 251". National Archives of Australia. Retrieved 2007-03-07. 
  24. ^ Thomas, Alan (1981). "Cleary, William James (1885 - 1973)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. 
  25. ^ ABC board decision welcome, (posted 25 March 2006 1:23am AEDT & updated Sat Mar 25, 2006 1:28am AEDT), ABC News
  26. ^ "Staff-elected Director". Scaleplus. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-11-26. 
  27. ^ "Australian Broadcasting Corporation Amendment Bill 2006". Peter Garret. 2006-05-24. Archived from the original on 2007-08-31. Retrieved 2007-10-06. 
  28. ^ "AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY, AUSTRALIAN GREENS AND AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS: MINORITY REPORT" (PDF). Archived from the original on 25 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-06.