We meet the ABC Chair

We meet the ABC Chair

ABC funding, transparency and impartiality were among the issues discussed when ABC Friends President, Cassandra Parkinson, and Vice-President, Carol Stuart, had their first meeting with the new ABC Chair, Kim Williams.

Three people in a meeting roomKim has approached his role with gusto, with his first priority being to meet with ABC colleagues, the board, politicians from across the spectrum and organisations such as ours. 

He’s been listening to what people from inside and outside the ABC say about it. As the new Chair he received thousands of messages – he stopped counting at 4,500 – demonstrating the intensity of feeling about the ABC in the community. It’s a barometer of how people feel and he’s taken the messages seriously by responding to all of them.

Meeting ABC audiences

As part of his commitment to listen and learn from the community, Kim will talk to the board about holding some meetings outside Sydney. He himself hopes to visit Queensland soon, the only state with the majority of the population outside its capital city. And wherever he travels he'll be open to meeting with the public.

We welcome his commitment to listen to ABC audiences and are delighted that he has accepted an invitation to speak at a Friends dinner in Victoria in November.

Trust and transparency

We talked at some length about trust, and the need for the ABC to retain the trust of the Australian public. Part of the answer lies in the ABC being transparent about the reasons why it makes decisions. 

Many ABC Friends contacted us in dismay when The Drum was cut - and they continue to do so. We think it would have been helpful if the ABC had explained to its audience why that decision was made.


We urged that as chair Kim advocate forcefully for increased funding. At this early stage of his tenure it would be premature for him to state a position. We reiterated the urgent need for more funding and emphasised the crucial role the chair can play in advocating for it. 

We also think it’s important that the ABC share with the Australian public the impact that funding cuts have had – and continue to have- on its performance.  

While there is unlikely to be much improvement in this year’s budget, there is no question that the ABC’s funding must increase. Proper funding is critical to the independence and integrity of the ABC. We’ll continue to push this point with the ABC Chair – and with the government – as we head towards the next federal election.

ABC Radio National is safe

With all the dire talk about poor ratings there’s been some anxiety about RN’s future, with suggestions it might be replaced by podcasts only.

But there’s no cause for concern. Kim Williams is deeply committed to RN as the cultural and intellectual heart of the ABC.

That assurance – and the reasons for it – gave us a sense of optimism about the direction the ABC will take under its new chair. 

In summary, it was a productive meeting that traversed a lot of ground. There’s a lot of work to be done and Kim Williams is planning strategically. He’s happy to work with us and encouraged us to keep in touch.

Cassandra Parkinson
ABC Friends