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Democrats to legislate for unbiased ABC board appointments.

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Senator Vicki Bourne

Australian Democrats

Spokesperson on Broadcasting and Media


23 March 1999



Democrats to legislate for unbiased ABC Board Appointments


The Australian Democrats will tomorrow introduce a Private Member’s Bill in the Senate to force greater Government accountability in ABC Board appointments.


“For years, the Coalition has criticised the ALP for stacking the ABC Board with its mates. But the Minister and Cabinet are showing no signs of doing anything differently. In fact, if anything, this Government has done more than any other to destroy Australia’s national public broadcaster” said Senator Bourne, Democrats spokesperson on Broadcasting and Media.


Senator Bourne pointed out the Government’ hypocrisy in relation to ABC Board appointments. In 1994 Senator Alston said:

“[It will be] a great disappointment to all those who are looking to the Government to take this opportunity to make appointments to the board on the basis of merit and to boost the community standin g and reputation of the ABC.. This blatant board stacking exercise endangers the independence and integrity of the ABC and has the potential to do grave danger to Australia’s international reputation” (Hansard, 30.06.94)


He also said, three days earlier t hat:

“It is absolutely critical that the ABC is not compromised in its work and that it does has a genuine and impartial board” (Hansard, 27.06.94)


The Prime Minister is also in record for stating that:

“More than ever before Australia needs an independen t, fearless, professional Australian Broadcasting Corporation”.. .and that... “in appointing new commissioners to the ABC, they will in fact be people who will act without fear or favour, that they will in fact be people who will be completely dispassionate so far as political comment is concerned” (Hansard, 05.05.83).


“The Bill will make it much more difficult for the Government to stack the ABC Board with its mates. The Minister will have to obtain approval from a new Joint Standing Committee on the ABC to appoint Board members.


“It is the only way to enable our ABC — which Australians cherish — to operate independently.


“It will strengthen the ABC against the Government’s relentless and vicious attacks, the likes we have never before seen”.


“If the Government and Opposition are serious about maintaining a fully independent, properly funded national public broadcaster, they will support this Bill” she said.


Copies of the Democrats’ Australian Broadcasting Corporation Amendment Bill 1999 and Senator Bo urne’s second reading speech are available by calling (02) 6277 3820


Contacts: Senator Vicki Bourne 6277 3820