WAIT FOR THE SENATE REPORT: ALUMNI SAY

LET SENATE REPORT BEFORE MAKING NEW APPOINTMENTS

The ABC has begun the search for a new managing director but high-profile former ABC staff say key appointments should not be rushed.

The MD and Chair positions have been vacant since Michelle Guthrie was dismissed in September and Justin Milne resigned amid claims of political interference.

A Senate inquiry into those events is due to report by the end of March.

ABC Alumni believes no appointments should be made until the Senate Inquiry report is published.

ABC Alumni co-founder Matt Peacock says it's clear Australians have become keenly aware of deficiencies in the existing processes for appointing the managing director and members of the Board.

“The ABC is facing great uncertainty about its structure, operations and future,” Mr Peacock said.

WAIT FOR THE REPORT - AND THE ELECTION

“The period leading up to the Federal election offers the Government an opportunity for serious reflection on the calibre of people that the ABC needs to maintain its independence and lead it into the rapidly evolving communications future. It’s vital that no appointments are made during this period.

"The ABC Board is responsible, above all, to the people of Australia for ensuring the independence of the ABC and the quality and integrity of its services. The appointment of a new Chair will influence any Managing Director appointment and should be undertaken only after exhaustive consideration of the requisite qualities needed to restore public confidence in the ABC."

From time to time amendments to the ABC Act have attempted - with limited success - to avert the possibility of blatantly political appointments.

Appointments to the Board are for a minimum of five years and are renewable. Long-term politically-motivated appointments, combined with ongoing major cuts to ABC funding and the threat of privatisation, could reduce the ABC to a mere shadow of its former role and identity.

All these issues are the subject of an inquiry by the Senate Standing Committee on Communications and Environment, which is due to report by the end of March. ABC Alumni calls on all Members of Parliament to resist attempts by the Government to appoint a new Chair or to fill any other vacancies on the ABC Board until that inquiry has reported and its report has been tabled.

“There is no need for undue haste or ‘captain’s picks’,” Mr Peacock said.