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ABC Board must be appointed on merit.

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Australian Democrats Press Releases

Senator Andrew Murray Democrats Senator for Western Australia Australian Democrats spokesperson for Accountability

Dated: 24 March 2006

Press Release Number: mybzcqsa Portfolio: Accountability

More from Senator Andrew Murray on Accountability

ABC Board Must be Appointed on Merit The Communications Ministers decision to remove the staff-elected ABC Board member position should be widely condemned, the Australian Democrats said today. Minister Coonans decision to remove the staff-elected ABC Board member is bad politics, bad public policy, and bad corporate governance said Senator Murray, Democrats Spokesperson for Accountability. It is bad politics because it exposes a nasty prejudice, it is bad public policy because an experienced staff member provides invaluable skills and insights to the Board, and it is bad corporate governance because not only is that ABC Board member the only appointment on merit through democratic election, but in Europe and in many companies overseas, staff membership of boards is common because it is so useful. Senator Coonan perversely claims that an elected position is less accountable than an appointed one. At present no ABC Board member, apart from the staff member, is elected. They are appointed by the Government of the day against partisan political criteria as an act of patronage. There are no public advertisements, no objective panels for selection, and no published criteria for Board selection. Consequently even the best ABC Board members labour under the slur of being fellow travellers of the Government of the day, fifth columnists trying to subvert the ABC charter of independence. This latest blow would remove the only board position that is still selected by merit and by anyone other than the Government of the day. The staff-elected position on the Board is the sole remaining voice not supported by this Government. It is no wonder they are trying to remove it. The ABC belongs to all Australians, not the Government of the day, and the ABC board must contain people with experience and skills in broadcasting, journalism and communications to ensure that Aunty can provide the range and depth of programming and the independence of views that its charter mandates. The Democrats renew our calls for appointments to the boards of all statutory bodies to be made independently of Government and to be based on merit against published criteria, concluded Senator Murray. Note: the Australian Democrats have moved over 30 selection on merit amendments, all of which have been knocked back by the Government.

Printed: 28 March 2006

Authorised by: Nina Burridge, 711 South Road, Black Forest, SA 5035.