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Coalition remains opposed to staff-elected ABC Board position.

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Tue, 17th November 2009


Senator the Hon Nick Minchin

Shadow Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate

The Coalition remains opposed to the Rudd Government’s plan to reinstate the position of staff-elected director to

the ABC Board, Shadow Minister for Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy Senator Nick Minchin

said today.

The Government wants to reinstate the position in its National Broadcasting Legislation Amendment Bill which

has been introduced into the Parliament. In 2006 the Coalition abolished the position from the ABC board’s

legislated composition to improve the corporate governance of the organisation.

Senator Minchin said the position of staff-elected director was seen as an anomaly among Government agency

boards, including with that of the SBS.

“The position creates the potential for conflict of interest with the staff-elected director legally bound to act in the

best interests of the Corporation, despite having been appointed as a representative of staff and elected by

them,” he said.

Senator Minchin also described Labor’s claims of implementing a new merit-based board appointment process

for the ABC and SBS, free of political interference, as “greatly exaggerated”.

“While the Government is establishing a Nomination Panel for the appointment process, at the end of the day the

scope remains for the Minister and the Prime Minister to ignore panel nominations and appoint whoever they

like,” he said.

The Government’s plans to ban former members of parliament and senior political staff from being appointed to

the ABC and SBS boards, also highlights its hypocrisy.

“Former members of parliament have made valuable contributions to both the ABC board and other Government

bodies and continue to do so. Former South Australian Labor Premier John Bannon served on the ABC Board

and the current Government appointed former Hawke Government Minister John Kerin to the CSIRO and most

recently Peter Costello to the Future Fund Board.

“The Coalition will propose an amendment that former politicians and senior staff only be restricted from ABC and

SBS board appointments within 18 months from ceasing their employment.

“The Coalition is not opposed to a merit-based selection process for the ABC and SBS boards per se, but

remains opposed to a representational appointment in the form of an ABC staff-elected director. Accordingly we

will seek to amend the Bill to remove this provision,” Senator Minchin said.