The ABC Board is the body responsible for the operations of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. It is made up of five to seven directors chosen by the Australian government and a Managing Director who is appointed by the Board itself. At various times, ABC staff have been granted rights to elect a nominee for appointment to the Board; and as of April 2013 staff elected a nominee-director.
The Governor-General, on the recommendation of the Federal Government, appoints members, as specified in the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act, 1983, commonly called the ABC Act. The ABC 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. Each director serves a term of five years, with eligibility for reappointment at the end of this term.
Directors are expected to follow the ABC Board Protocol, which stipulates responsibilities, expectations, rights, and benefits.
Current Board members are:
|Name||Functional role||Term start||Notes / Reference|
|James Spigelman AC QC||Chairman||1 April 2012|||
|Mark Scott AO||Managing Director||5 July 2006|||
|Cheryl Bart AO||3 June 2010|||
|Jane Bennett||Company Secretary||30 June 2011|
|Peter Lewis||2 October 2014|||
|Simon Mordant AM||8 November 2012|||
|Matt Peacock||Staff Elected Director||22 April 2013|||
|Steven Skala AO||6 October 2005|||
|Dr Fiona Stanley AC FAA||30 June 2011|||
The board maintains an Advisory Council, which advises it on matters concerning the Corporation's programming. 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.
The Minister for Communications nominates candidates to the Governor-General for appointment to the ABC Board; based on a shortlist prepared by an independent nomination panel. As of October 2014[update], members of the panel were businessman David Gonski AC, former diplomat Ric Smith AO, PSM, News Corp Australia columnist Janet Albrechtsen (a former ABC Board member), and former deputy Liberal leader Neil Brown QC.
Appointments to the board made by successive governments have often resulted in criticism of the appointees' political affiliation, background, and relative merit. From 2003 the Howard government also made several controversial appointments to the ABC Board, including Albrechtsen, a prominent critic, Ron Brunton, and Keith Windschuttle.
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. Under this new system, now in place, ABC candidates are considered by a panel established "at arm's length" from the Communications Minister. If the Minister chose someone not on the panel's shortlist, the Minister would be required to justify their selection to Australian Parliament. The Chairman of the ABC is nominated by the Prime Minister and endorsed by the Leader of the Opposition.
|1||General Manager||Sir Charles Moses||November 1935||January 1965|||
|2||Sir Talbot Duckmanton||February 1965||1982|
|4||Managing Director||Geoffrey Whitehead||1983||1987|
|5||David Hill||1987||25 February 1995|||
|6||Brian Johns||17 March 1995||1999|
|7||Jonathan Shier||1999||December 2001|||
|9||Mark Scott||5 July 2006||present|
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), 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.
In the past, appointments of commissioners and directors also drew criticism. In the 1932, a majority of the commissioners were publicly conservative. This continued to 1942, when the Curtin and Chifley administrations appointed a more 'politically balanced' commission.
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. His successor, Malcolm Fraser, attempted unsuccessfully to take similar action by replacing the board with politically conservative commissioners in 1976, but was only able to make new appointments by adding two extra director positions onto the board.
In 1983, Minister John Button referred proposed board appointments to an all-party committee for the first time. This practice was discontinued before the end of Paul Keating's government. Alan Ramsey, in a 1996 article for The Sydney Morning Herald noted that:
"12 came from overt political backgrounds, among them a former Labor premier, a former Liberal senator, a former Liberal Cabinet minister, four trade union activists, four advisers to various State Labor administrations, and Labor's former opinion pollster, Rod Cameron." In short, "less than half Labor's ABC appointments over the years have had obvious party political connections, while two of them came from among the ranks of its political opponents."
A 2006 restructure of the ABC board, undertaken by the Howard government, abolished the position of staff elected director. 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. Broadcaster Ramona Koval had occupied the position for the previous four years prior to its abolition amid ongoing intense controversy. This drew criticism from the Labor Party, Australian Greens, and the Democrats, who saw it as a 'revenge measure' taken against the Corporation.
In July 2007, Labor announced plans to make the system of appointments to the board independent of the Minister for Communications; and also reinstate the staff election of a nominee director. Initial members of the independent panel were Gonski, Smith, Allan Fels and Leneen Forde.
- "Establishment of Australian Broadcasting Corporation Board". ScalePlus. Archived from the original on 30 May 2006. Retrieved 26 November 2006.
- "Membership of Board". ScalePlus. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 5 October 2007.
- "Restructure of ABC Board" (Press release). Website of Senator the Hon Helen Coonan, Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. Archived from the original on 8 August 2007. Retrieved 27 November 2007.
- "ABC elects staffer Peacock as director". The Sydney Morning Herald. 22 April 2013. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
- "About the board". ABC Online. Retrieved 26 November 2006.
- "Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983". Attorney-General's Department. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-01.
- "Membership of Board". Scaleplus. Archived from the original on 30 May 2006. Retrieved 26 November 2006.
- "ABC Board Members". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
- "Spigelman confirmed as new ABC chairman". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 8 March 2012. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
- "Mr Mark Scott AO". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
- Bodey, Michael (5 June 2010). "Mountaineer mum at Aunty's summit". The Australian. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
- Knott, Matthew (2 October 2014). "ABC efficiency reviewer Peter Lewis appointed to broadcaster's board". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
- Meade, Amanda (14 November 2012). "Three new appointments to ABC and SBS boards". The Australian. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
- Markson, Sharri (3 July 2014). "John Howard loyalists join ABC panel". The Australian. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
- "WA health expert Professor Fiona Stanley joins ABC board". Perth Now. 1 July 2011. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
- "The ABC Advisory Council". ABC Online. Archived from the original on 2 July 2007. Retrieved 29 July 2007.
- 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 4 November 2006.
- "Whose ABC?". PM (ABC Radio). 26 August 2006. Retrieved 13 October 2007.
- Caldwell, Alison (24 February 2005). "ABC critic appointed to board of directors" (TRANSCRIPT). PM (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 28 November 2006.
- Marriner, Cosima (3 May 2003). "Anthropologist on ABC Board". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 28 November 2006.
- Colvin, Mark (15 June 2006). "Govt appoints ABC board members" (TRANSCRIPT). PM (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Archived from the original on 19 October 2006. Retrieved 28 November 2006.
- "Australian Labor Party: ABC Board" (Press release). Australian Labor Party. 5 June 2007.
- Sainsbury, Michael (7 December 2007). "Conroy sets ABC collision course". The Australian.
- "Independent panel to select ABC board to be named". The Australian. 18 February 2007.[dead link]
- Day, Mark (18 September 2008). "Free podcasts don't suit ABC's results". news.com.au.
- "Agency notes for agency CA 251". National Archives of Australia. Retrieved 7 March 2007.
- Thomas, Alan (1981). "Cleary, William James (1885 - 1973)". Australian Dictionary of Biography.
- Bolton, G. C. (1993). "Boyer, Sir Richard James Fildes (1891 - 1961)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Volume 13. MUP. pp. 240–246.
- "Obitiary: Geelong’s master of inspiration". The Australian (World Transformation Movement). 3 November 1995. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
- Inglis, Kenneth Stanley (2006). This Is the ABC: The Australian Broadcasting Commission, 1932–1983 (2nd ed.). Melbourne: Black Inc. pp. 338–339. ISBN 978-1-86395-181-4. OCLC 70928750. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
- Spaull, Andrew David (2000). "Madgwick, Sir Robert Bowden (1905–1979)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
- Farquharson, John, "Bland, Sir Henry (Harry) (1909–1997)", Obituaries Australia (Australian National University), archived from the original on 17 September 2013
- Ellingsen, Peter (10 June 1983). "Not-Sir-Kenneth Myer of the ABC". The Age. p. 1. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
- Ricketson, Matthew (14 December 2006). "There's a chair in there". The Age. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
- "Annual Report" (PDF). Australian Broadcasting Commission. 1997. p. 7. Retrieved 10 October 2006.
- Smith, Michael (6 April 2003). "It's his ABC". The Age. Retrieved 10 October 2006.
- Caldwell, Alison (24 February 2005). "ABC critic appointed to board of directors". ABC News. Retrieved 30 April 2007.
- Sharp, Ari (11 November 2009). "Albrechtsen to step down as director on ABC board". The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 7. Retrieved 5 June 2010.
- Meade, Amanda (22 February 2010). "Board vacancy". The Australian. p. Media section, p. 31.
- Bannon, John (24 November 2014). "ABC can be cut and be better". The Australian. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
- O'Neill, Margot; Ellingsen, Peter (10 June 1983). "3AW man may be managing director". The Age. p. 1. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
- Inglis, Ken (27 November 2002). "Aunty at seventy: A health report on the ABC". Australian Policy Online. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
- "Board of Directors" (PDF). Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 22 November 2001. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
- "ABC Board of Directors" (PDF). Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 31 October 2002. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
- "ABC board promotes Gallagher". ABC News (Australia). 6 October 2005. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
- Howcroft, Elizabeth; Beecher, Eric; Heyward, Michael. "Gribble, Diana (Di) (1942–2011)". Obituaries Australia. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
- "Obituary: Doctor, broadcaster and thinker". The Sydney Morning Herald. 15 April 2010. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
- "ABC board decision welcome". ABC News (Australia). 25 March 2006.
- Grattan, Michelle (8 September 2002). "Kroger has had enough of ABC board". The Age. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
- "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 (PDF) on 14 June 2006. Retrieved 6 December 2006.
- "Moses, Sir Charles Joseph (1900–1988)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. 2012. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
- Inglis, Kenneth Stanley (2006). p. 329
- Inglis, Kenneth Stanley (2006). Whose ABC? The Australian Broadcasting Corporation 1983-2006. Melbourne, Victoria: Black Inc. ISBN 1-86395-189-X.
- Inglis, Ken (13 November 2002). "Aunty at seventy: a health report on the ABC" (PDF). Friends of the ABC.
- "Staff-elected Director". Scaleplus. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 26 November 2007.
- "Australian Broadcasting Corporation Amendment Bill 2006". Peter Garret. 24 May 2006. Archived from the original on 31 August 2007. Retrieved 6 October 2007.
- "Australian Labor Party, Australian Greens and Australian Democrats: Minority Reports" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 25 October 2007. Retrieved 6 October 2007.