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David Hill's future in his own hands

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Richard Alston Liberal Senator for Victoria S H A D O W M I N I S T E R F O R C O M M U N I C A T I O N S




Contrary to the inference contained in some press reports (eg today's Australian), the Managing Director of the ABC, Mr David Hill, would not quickly get his marching orders under an incoming Coalition Government.

The fact is that Mr Hill's term still has two years to run and the position at the end of that period would need to be reviewed by whichever Government is in power at the time.

The Coalition would have no difficulty in working with Mr Hill if he is committed to completing his current contract of employment.

However, Mr Hill's terse letter of 22 December to Mr Willis raises more issues than it answers and shows there is still a very big question mark over Mr Hill's future intentions.

In view of the rumours that continue to swirl around the ABC, and the damaging effect on staff morale, it is therefore imperative that Mr Hill should immediately come clean on his future intentions and give an unequivocal assurance that he is not negotiating his future with any commercial broadcasting enterprises. If he is, then he should say so and let the Government decide whether any conflict of interest arises.

Once again, the responsible Minister, Rip van Willis, is standing on the sidelines when he should be seeking urgent clarification of Mr Hill's position. It is not appropriate for Mr Hill to be the sole arbiter of whether any arrangement or undertaking constitutes, or might constitute, a conflict of interest.

Mr Willis' continued reluctance to seek answers to these important questions is extraordinary but predictable. Indeed, his quite inadequate letter of 21 December to Mr Hill was only written at all after much heavying by Senator Ray, who well

understands the untenability of doing nothing.

28 December 1989 Contact (03) 817 :6 “ (H)