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Apr 1, 2014

Political appointments: Mirabella to chair SBS board, Akerman joins

Tony Abbott has made two political appointments to the SBS, with ex-minister Sophie Mirabella to chair the board that will now include News Corporation columnist Piers Akerman.

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Ousted Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella will replace Joseph Skrzynski as chair of multicultural broadcaster SBS, the government announced today.

Skrzynski’s term ended last week, following a failed effort by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull to renew his term. Turnbull was overruled by Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s office. Abbott said in a statement this morning:

“Ms Mirabella will bring excellent management skills as well as a strong multicultural background to the broadcaster. Her career in politics demonstrated an excellent capacity to connect effectively with communities, and this skill will be invaluable in her new role as chair of the SBS board.”

Also joining the board will be News Corporation columnist Piers Akerman. Akerman follows in the footsteps of another News Corp writer, the late Christopher Pearson, an Abbott mentor who was appointed to the SBS board by the Howard government in 2003. The PM said:

“Piers brings decades of media experience at the most senior levels to the position and will substantially enhance the SBS board’s media expertise. He has also written extensively on multicultural issues.”

In a statement this morning, Mirabella expressed delight at the appointment, saying she was “looking forward to the challenge of leading Australia’s pre-eminent ethnic broadcaster”:

“Unlike other public broadcasters, I know SBS always puts Australia first, just as the migrant communities it serves have put Australia first in deciding where to live. At the same time, my experience in the Industry portfolio has given me insights into how to wean companies dependent on government assistance off their reliance on taxpayers.”

Akerman stated that he was looking forward to the “colour and movement” of the role and believed he had appropriate qualifications:

“I think even my critics would accept that I’m a well-known champion of South American products, for instance.”

Akerman went on to accuse several senior Labor Party figures of corruption and call for their jailing.

The appointments take effect from today, April 1.

Bernard Keane — Politics Editor

Bernard Keane

Politics Editor

Bernard Keane is Crikey’s political editor. Before that he was Crikey’s Canberra press gallery correspondent, covering politics, national security and economics.

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