Former ABC board
member Janine Walker has weighed into the controversy over the stacking of the
ABC Board and the decision not to publish Chris Masters’ Jonestown book.
Walker was a member of
the ABC Board from 1991 to 1997, and a broadcaster in the early 1980s. She is
now head of human resources at Griffith
University and adjunct Professor of Management at
My name is
frequently pulled out as evidence of the political stack on the Board in the
Keating/Hawke years. In my humble opinion, political acumen and nous are
critical capabilities for any member of the ABC Board and mostly you acquire
these by engagement with political processes one way or another. One of the
ABC’s least capable Boards in recent history was one whose members were much
heralded for their distance from the political party of the day. Certainly
the Board on which I served with its shifts in membership may have recorded a
narrow majority for the ALP on a two party preferred basis at a ballot box
but would have disagreed about many matters of substance and indeed did on a
number of notable occasions. This rather surprised Donald McDonald when he
took up the Chair and spent nearly a year presiding over a Board appointed by
Labor Governments. I think he rather enjoyed a ringside seat for what was but
a pale reflection of the lively and combative interactions of any gathering
of more than one member/supporter of the ALP.
However, there is a
difference between a political and an ideological stack and the current Board
is rather more of the latter. It is one thing to share a broad political
affiliation, it is quite a different matter to make common ideological
purpose. The decision not to publish Chris Masters smacks of ideological
purpose because it is the dumbest possible political decision – with
political agents like these Alan Jones will certainly need lots of lawyers.
The book is now well publicised and eagerly awaited. It but remains for the
bids to be finalised and the printing presses and book shop queues and cash
registers will be at full tilt.
For these reasons, I am not overly
disturbed by this current ideological stack in the room at the top of the
stairs – ideology and judgement are rarely found spooning in the big bed.