Janet Kim Albrechtsen (born 23 September 1966) is an Australian opinion columnist with the News Limited-owned newspaper, The Australian. From 2005 until 2010, she was a member of the Board of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia's state-owned national broadcaster.
Early life and education
The daughter of Danish immigrants to Australia, Albrechtsen was born in Adelaide and attended Seacombe High School. She subsequently studied at University of Adelaide, graduating in law, with honours. Albrechtsen later moved to Sydney, where she worked as a solicitor in commercial law at Freehills. She subsequently attained a doctorate in law (SJD) from the University of Sydney. Her thesis was titled: 'The regulation of the fundraising process in Australia: searching for an optimal mix between legislative prescriptions and market forces'. Albrechtsen has also taught as an academic.
Since turning to commentary, Albrechtsen has written for the Australian Financial Review, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Sunday Age, Quadrant, Canada's National Post, The Vancouver Sun, The Wall Street Journal and The Wall Street Journal Asia. Albrechtsen was a member of the Foreign Affairs Council from 2003 until 2007.
Albrechtsen was appointed to the board of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 2005. She told reporters in late 2009 that she was planning to retire from the board, and completed her five-year term on 18 February 2010 without seeking reappointment.
In 2008, Albrechtsen wrote a chapter for Peter van Onselen's book The Liberals and Power. She argued the Liberals have become preoccupied with "dominating the rational low ground," abandoning the high moral ground to the left. Left-wing reviewer Norman Abjorensen said he appreciated her view of Howard's legacy as not just a transformation of the Australian economy but also one of the Labor Party.
Janet Albrechtsen is also an Ambassador for the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation.
She was married in 1991 to lawyer John O'Sullivan. They have 3 children, two daughters, Sascha and Caitlin, and a son, Jamie. They are now separated. Her partner is Michael Kroger.
Views and influence
Albrechtsen's views are generally right-wing. She supports free market policies, as well as social conservativism, and institutional multiculturalism, but on Q&A on Monday 26 November 2012, stated that she was "coming around to" gay marriage.
According to Mark Davis, a Melbourne University academic, Albrechtsen was one of four 'suspect' commentators in the Australian press to "sound the warning that this environmental catastrophe [global warming] will pass into memory" in the 2000s.
In 2002, following a blog post by controversial Muslim Amir Butler, the ABC's Media Watch program queried Albrechtsen's source for a claim she attributed to psychiatrist Jean-Jacques Rassial a column that "pack rape of white girls is an initiation rite of passage for a small section of young male Muslim youths", asserting that she was misquoting a report in the London Times. Media Watch also said that Albrechtsen misrepresented the findings of Flemming Balvig, a criminologist at Copenhagen University, who wrote in an email to Butler that:
- The citation is completely wrong. What I have said is, that the main explanation of gang rape probably is social, and not cultural or religious.
In the lead-up to this episode of Media Watch sent Friday 6 September 2002, Albrechtsen told them she took the contested quotes from The Times and The Copenhagen Post, that "journalists are entitled to, and very frequently do, rely on such sources reasonably believed to be accurate" and that they "appear to have done exactly the same, although from a source (a blog spot) of far lower stature than those [she] used". She also told them:
- If you misrepresent me, selectively quote from my work or this letter, fail to check your sources or commit any of the other sins you seek to expose in others, you will be guilty of a more egregious wrong than those you seek to expose in journalists. Hypocrisy.
She ended that message by saying that she would "be interstate at a conference from 2.30pm today until 5pm Monday. Kindly do not attempt to ambush me in my absence". At 1:10 pm that day, Media Watch sent another fax with several more questions, again requesting a reply by 5pm. They went to air without any further response from Albrechtsen.
- Who's Who in Australia - entry on Janet Albrechtsen
- Albrechtsen's SJD Thesis, Sydney University Library website
- "Profile: Janet Albrechtsen". news.com.au.
- 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.
- Abjorensen, Norman (February 2009). "The long road back to office". Australian Book Review (308): 18–19.
- "Q&A: Happy Endings". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 26 November 2012. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
- Davis, Mark (2008). The Land of Plenty: Australia in the 2000s. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press. pp. 192–194, 199. ISBN 978-0-522-85484-8.
- "Media Watch, Muslims, Albrechtsen and Others". "Our research is based on the work done by Amir Butler of Australian Muslim Public Affairs Committee"
- Media Watch (9 September 2002). "Janet Albrechtsen's View". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 6 June 2007.
- "Email exchange between Media Watch and Flemming Balvig, September 2002".
- ["http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/reply2.htm "Fax from Janet Albrechtsen to Media Watch"]. 6 September 2002.
- "Fax from Janet Albrechtsen to Media Watch". 6 September 2002.
- "Media Watch to Janet Albrechtsen, 1:10pm". 6 September 2002.
- Archive of Albrechtsen's columns with reader comments, from February 2007 onwards