There was more than the odd eyebrow raised around the ABC when its revamped Independent Complaints Tribunal was revealed a few weeks ago. The revamp seems to be acceptable to those against whom the complaints are made – the denziens of News and Current Affairs.
But the composition of the new panel has raised queries in the ABC about its level of journalistic experience – here’s the announcement. The three new panel members to replace the old group of five are:
The Honourable Michael L Foster QC (Convenor): Former Acting Judge and Judge of Appeal Supreme Court NSW (1999-2003), Judge Federal Court of Australia (1987-99), Judge Supreme Court of NSW (1981-87). Appointed by the ABC Board for a five-year term.
Ms Susan Brooks: Extensive experience in managing regulatory risks and consumer issues from within executive government, statutory administrative bodies (Australian Broadcasting Tribunal and Australian Securities Commission) and financial services sector (Chief Compliance Officer, Westpac and the Australian Banking Industry Ombudsman). Nominated by the St James Ethics Centre and appointed for a four-year term.
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Ms Jane Singleton: A long and distinguished career in broadcasting including work for public broadcasters and the commercial media in Australia (2GB, ABC and SBS). Singleton has worked as a public affairs strategist, has been a Walkley award judge and is currently Chair of the aid organisation, CCF Australia. Nominated by the Communications Law Centre and appointed for a three-year term.
Apart from Singleton, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of journalistic experience. In fact none. Singleton is at least a former senior ABC reporter, but had a trip to the dark side of PR when she worked for the CFMEU a few years ago – coal was dumped at the North Sydney (Milsons Point) offices of CRA Coal during an industrial dispute. She also applied at one stage to be the manager of the old ABC AM radio station in Sydney, 2BL, now Radio 702.