September 2023 news and updates

September 2023 news and updates

I’m delighted to welcome you to our September e-news. 


In this newsletter we report on our submission to the government on the ABC’s independence. That project became especially relevant when Ita Buttrose announced she will step down as ABC Chair early next year. 

Over coming weeks we’ll urge the government to adopt our recommendations when they appoint a new Chair and fill two other board vacancies. 

I encourage you to sign our petition to help us send a clear message to the government that the ABC's independence matters to Australians.

This month’s news also discusses the first report by the ABC Ombusdman about complaints to the ABC; how the ABC is addressing misinformation on the Voice; our advocacy to delegates at the recent ALP national conference in Queensland … and more.

Happy reading! 

And thank you again for your contributions to our work. 

A new Chair signals change at the ABC

Ita Buttrose’s departure as ABC Chair is an opportunity to make sure future ABC board and Chair appointments are independent, transparent and rigorous.

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

We must now make sure that the new Chair is appointed through an independent, arms length process. 


Sign the petition: No more captain's picks

In recent years, perceived and actual political influence over appointments to the ABC board and Chair have created doubts about the ABC’s independence. 

Now is the time to amend the ABC Act to guarantee a rigorous, transparent process for making appointments to the ABC board and its chair.


Will Labor deliver for the ABC?

ABC Friends at the ALP confenrence

In August I attended the Labor party’s federal conference to lobby in support of the ABC. Along with my colleagues from ABC Friends Queensland I spoke to conference delegates from all states and territories.

My aim was to remind delegates that times are still tough at the ABC.

The response from conference delegates was terrific. Overwhelmingly, they wanted to hear about the challenges faced by the ABC. And to a person, they agreed that the ABC needs more funding.


You told us what you wanted – and we told the Government

We received a strong response to our invitation to members and supporters to have your say about the future of the ABC. And we included your views in our submission to the government’s review .

More than 1500 members completed the survey, with 98% saying the government should introduce measures to strengthen the ABC’s independence.


Virginia Trioli to host new prime-time arts program

Virginia Trioli leans against the wall

ABC radio broadcaster, Virginia Trioli, has stepped down from her role presenting the ABC Melbourne breakfast program to host a new prime-time ABC arts program next year. 

Director, David Anderson, said the new interview series will be part of the ABC’s expanded arts coverage next year. However, ABC Friends remains concerned that cutting the ABC’s two most senior arts positions will result in less arts reporting and coverage.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the other arts programs the ABC is planning,” Cassandra Parkinson said.


Help stamp out misinformation on the Voice

Fake or fact?

With the official campaign for the Voice to Parliament now in full swing, the ABC is asking people to report any possible misinformation so it can be investigated. This includes videos, letters, flyers, posters, texts or voicemails.

The ABC investigations team will fact check the information and make public any inaccuracies or incorrect claims.


Who complains to the ABC - and why?

Most complaints to the ABC relate to balance, bias and factual inaccuracy, the ABC Ombudsman, Fiona Cameron’s first public report has shown.

Ms Cameron has overhauled the ABC’s complaints handling process which had been in place for 20 years.

ABC Friends encourages our members and supporters to share any concerns or complaints through the ABC’s online complaints process.


Ben Roberts-Smith books – “excellent reads”

It is not surprising that the Ben Roberts-Smith defamation case has already spawned two books – one by former ABC journalist, Chris Masters, and the other by his legal co-respondent, Nick McKenzie.

ABC Alumni Chair, Jonathan Holmes, says both are “excellent reads” with lessons about investigative journalism, truth-telling, and the cost of a crucial victory.


ABC Alumni sleuths find evidence of Government attack on ABC independence

Women working in the 1970s at 3zz

A confidential 1976 Federal Government report – found only through the efforts of former ABC staffers – has revealed details about one of the “most serious attacks on the ABC’s independence in its history”.


State wrap-up


  • ABC Managing Director, David Anderson, will be the Guest Speaker at the ABC Friends Victoria Annual Dinner in Melbourne on 17 November. Tickets are available here, but there are limited seats so please book soon.

  • On 15 October, ABC Friends Victoria will be aiming to recruit some future ABC Friends! The Eastern and Outer Eastern Groups will be part of the Whitehorse Spring Festival, which has its 2023 theme Let’s Play. A great fun day for kids and grandkids, even the Bananas in PJs will be joining in between 10am and 11am. The event is free.



  • ABC Friends Tasmania will hold its AGM in Hobart on 5 November, with the keynote address to be delivered by Independent Member for Clark and Co-Convenor of the Parliamentary Friends of the ABC, Andrew Wilkie. Members will be advised of the venue and time via email as soon as these are finalised.



  • ABC Friends SA/NT wants to hear from its members about what they want the organisation to focus on and the type of events and activities that would be of most interest.  The results of the survey they are asking members to complete will be used by the SA/NT Committee to develop strategies that better serve the ABC Friends SA/NT in supporting the ABC. The survey results will be aggregated and not personally attributed to individual members.

    To receive the link to the survey, please email Secretary, Judy at [email protected]

  • ABC Friends SA-NT is also calling on members to like, follow and share its new social media sites so that new and stronger connections can be built with the community. The sites below will keep people informed about events, collaborations and opportunities for advocacy: 



  • Long-time ABC Friends NSW Central Coast member, Klaas Woldring, recently published an article about how the ABC could do more to promote greater understanding of Australia’s governance systems.

  • On 12 October ABC Friends NsoS branch will host a talk with Paddy Manning to celebrate Global Media and Information Literacy Week. Paddy is an investigative journalist and author of six books including The Successor: The High-Stakes Life of Lachlan Murdoch (Black Inc, 2022). The book explores Lachlan Murdoch's upbringing, political beliefs and role as head of Fox Corporation - the man ultimately responsible for Fox News. The book depicts an epic saga of ruthless power plays and family battles. Details here.



  • ABC Friends Queensland brought former ABC journalists, Quentin Dempster and Dr Mark Hayes, together to discuss the ABC at its recent branch conference. The program also included discussions around ABC Friends' submission to the Government review of the ABC and SBS.

    Ross McDowell, Dr Hayes and Dr Vicki Uhlmann were thanked for arranging the very interesting event. 

    Please contact Mark Hayes at [email protected] if you would like the link to watch the conference.



Thank you for your support and for being a member of ABC Friends.

Kind regards

Cassandra Parkinson
National President
ABC Friends