Hearing Fran Kelly going toe to toe with
Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone on the Radio National Breakfast program
this morning, you’d think there was
nothing to allegations that the ABC has gone timid. But open The Age and you
might get a different picture from the account of Helen Razer apparently censoring a description of ABC
Board member Keith Windschuttle as a holocaust denier. Razer apparently feared
for her job – which may or may not have been a legitimate fear. There are
plenty of good reasons to have reservations about broadcasting such a slur.

I suspect Razer would not have lost her
job, any more than Fran Kelly will. But the fact that such fears are abroad is
in itself significant – and one more
reason why the ABC Board should be appointed by a process at arm’s length from
politics.

Windschuttle is an intensely divisive
figure. The very fact that such an extreme thing could be said about him is in
itself a worry. On another tack, I suspect he is temperamentally unsuited to
the processes of management, consultation, compromise and prudence necessitated
on the board of any large enterprise. More storms ahead, I suspect.

Peter Fray

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