A new Chair signals change at the ABC

A new Chair signals change at the ABC

Ita Buttrose’s announcement that she will be stepping down as ABC Chair gives the government the opportunity to make sure future ABC Board and Chair appointments are independent, transparent and rigorous.

Ita Buttrose

ABC Friends wants your help to make sure this happens.

With a Government commitment to more secure ABC funding and the ABC’s new five year plan, ABC Friends President, Cassandra Parkinson, said it was the right time to appoint a new Board Chair.

In our submission to the government review of the ABC and SBS, ABC Friends made several recommendations to strengthen appointment processes for the ABC Board and Chair.

We must now make sure that your voice factors into the government’s decision-making.

Sign our petition if you agree that the new Chair should be appointed through an independent, arms length process. 

Ms Buttrose announced on 22 August that she would not seek reappointment when her term finishes in March. 

In a statement, she said she had enjoyed her time at the ABC "immensely" and was honoured to chair the institution. "There have been many memories, some challenges, and I have relished the opportunity to play a role in the ABC's history.”

"Our 90th celebrations last year remain a high point for me but there are many moments I will always remember. Among those are the many interactions with both ABC staff and our audiences across the country.”

Cassandra Parkinson said that ABC Friends had made clear its displeasure when then Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, appointed Ms Buttrose as a 'captain’s pick' rather than following the independent, transparent process set down in the legislation.

However, it soon became clear, Cassandra said, that Ita had the necessary skills to restore calm and direction to the ABC after the previous chair, Justin Milne, resigned amid accusations of political interference.

“During her time as Chair, Ms Buttrose made some important interventions in support of the ABC and press freedom, “Cassandra said.

“She was unafraid to call out the intense pressure that Coalition Government ministers tried to exert on the ABC, decried police raids on the ABC in the strongest possible terms, and advocated for legislation to protect press freedom.” 

Cassandra said Ms Buttrose had been accessible to ABC Friends and had accepted invitations to speak at its events around the country. 

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland  said Ita Buttrose was the right ABC Chair for the right time.

“She navigated the public broadcaster through a challenging period that included strident political criticism, the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing transformation of the ABC so it can remain an essential part of Australian life in the digital age.”

Former long-time ABC journalist Quentin Dempster posted to social media: “Thanks Ita Butttose for guiding the ABC through fires, floods, the pandemic, egregious defunding and political hostility. Now... let’s rebuild the ABC through a new chair appointment and five year funding certainty”.

Sophie Arnold
E-News Editor