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Jul 2, 2014

Update: Albrechtsen scores powerful gig at ABC/SBS

Culture warrior Janet Albrechtsen is to play a key role in appointments at the ABC and SBS

As Crikey alerted you to in Wednesday’s edition, conservative columnist Janet Albrechtsen has been appointed to a powerful role overseeing the ABC and SBS boards. Albrechtsen, who writes for The Australian, will take up a vacancy on the four-person nomination panel that plays a crucial role in appointments to the ABC and SBS boards.

That’s an interesting development for ABC managing director Mark Scott, given that Albrechtsen last year used her column in the Oz to call for him to resign. As MD, Scott sits on the ABC board.

It’s not Albrechtsen’s first official role with the ABC. She sat on the board from 2005 to 2010 (she was appointed by John Howard).

The nomination panel was a Kevin Rudd initiative and was supposed to depoliticise the process of appointing board members to the ABC and SBS. The ” independent” panel considers applications then presents a shortlist of board candidates to the minister or PM. There are currently two vacancies on the panel; Albrechtsen takes one. It’s currently chaired by former diplomat Ric Smith. All positions on the panel expire by April next year, so the Abbott government can entirely remake the panel as it sees fit.

The nomination panel has some important decisions to make in the coming months. There has been some media speculation that the government was stalling on certain broadcasting board appointments because it wanted to stack the nomination panel with sympathisers.

Appointments that the panel will mull over include one new ABC board member (to replace Julianne Schultz) and one new SBS board member (to replace Elleni Bereded-Samuel). Two more ABC board members are due to leave next year (see the current board here). These decisions have lengthy ramifications as each new board member will sit for up to five years.

Meanwhile, SBS chairman Joseph Skrzynski has of course left the job (Fairfax reported Malcolm Turnbull wanted him to stay, but was rolled by Tony Abbott). It appears that the nomination panel will be involved in replacing him. Has the Coalition government been waiting to get Albrechtsen on the nomination panel before that decision is made?

This is not the first occasion where the Coalition government has appointed friendly figures to key positions. Columnist Gerard Henderson was appointed a judge for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, and Tim Wilson made a Human Rights Commissioner.

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13 comments

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13 thoughts on “Update: Albrechtsen scores powerful gig at ABC/SBS

  1. Patrick

    This is why people hold politicians in such low regard. Politics to the political elite is a game. Her appointment is in the best interest of the Liberal Party rather than the national interest. It is just as appalling when Labor do the same thing for one of their mates. Abbott you reputation is in the gutter at the moment but this staffing selection gave you an opportunity to show you could rise above political opportunism and act in the national interest. EPIC FAIL!!

  2. John Ryan

    She like ALL political appointees be made to sign an undated resignation letter,so when Govt changes shes out on the spot

  3. Paddlefoot

    The hand of Kroger ? Creepy stuff.

  4. tonyfunnywalker

    Turnbull was not a part of this it would seem. The ABC survived Maurice Newman but it is worrying that the Murdoch and IPA cronies are being appointed to various positions in the media, arts and human rights bodies.
    As Abbott’s popularity crashes such ideological appointments of cronies will do little in the resurrection process to LNP re-election.
    Even Murdoch commentators are beginning to despair as the electorate polarises in its dislike and distaste for Abbott and his tactics.
    The cronyism, underhandedness of Abbott and his Ministers is mindboggling in its arrogance and ineptitude.

  5. beachcomber

    I can see it now:
    Andrew Bolt will present 7.30, Four Corners, Lateline, Insight and Insiders.
    Alan Jones will read the News, which will be the same on both channels to save money.
    John Howard will present all Sport programs.
    All Cooking Shows will be replaced with Soup Kitchen, presented by Cook for the Dole recipients.
    And ABC for Kids and News 24 will be merged.

  6. Andrew McIntosh

    Hmmm…I’m no fan of the LNP. Maybe I should join them…

  7. Nick the Hippy

    So you take someone from Australia’s least trusted news sources and put them in a position of power at Australia’s most trusted. Makes sense.

  8. burninglog

    Has there been a fortnight, or even a week sinec September 7th, where the Abbott Regime has not caused outrage? I think there was a week in there somewhere…