Crikey Says

Jul 2, 2014

Crikey says: don’t re-politicise the ABC, SBS boards

The ABC and SBS should not be re-politicised. The Abbott government has made a serious mistake in appointing Liberal sympathisers to key roles at the public broadcasters.

Right-wing culture warrior Janet Albrechtsen and former Liberal Party deputy leader Neil Brown have been appointed powerful government jobs: a seat each on the panel which oversees the appointment of people to the ABC and SBS boards. The fact that the government has appointed Albrechtsen and Brown to these highly influential roles should ring alarm bells for those who want a strong and independent ABC and SBS, operating at arm's length from the political masters of the day. The appointment of Albrechtsen, or any other figure seen as an ideologue with close sympathies to the Abbott government, re-politicises a process that was, briefly, de-politicised under Labor. After decades of both sides of politics using the ABC and SBS boards as retirement gift for mates and opportunities for ideological control, the Rudd government established a far more independent process focused on -- shock horror -- appointing people to the broadcasters’ boards on merit. Albrechtsen getting the gig signals this is being brought to an end, and ideology will once again be a key criterion for appointment to oversee the national broadcasters. Worryingly, people with little or no broadcasting experience could end up with the jobs. People like Ron Brunton, Keith Windschuttle and Christopher Pearson (who all sat on those boards under John Howard). Pearson in particular -- a former speechwriter for both John Howard and Alexander Downer -- was a disaster for SBS. Unlike the ABC, which has multiple levels of management, SBS is a small organisation and there is little filter between the board and those with the power to hire and fire. Staff who were seen as "against the government" or "anti-Australian" in their international coverage were sacked. When we alerted you to the rumour of Albrechtsen getting this job, in our edition on Wednesday, we urged Abbott not to go ahead with it. As expected, that had no effect. But we stand by our view; this decision is an error, and all those who value a strong and independent ABC and the SBS should pay attention to what happens next.

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32 thoughts on “Crikey says: don’t re-politicise the ABC, SBS boards

  1. David Hand

    Don’t re-politicise the ABC????


  2. Graeski

    I believe “David Hand” may well be a Liberal Party plant.

    The following sums up our current government:

    “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

    Joseph Goebbels

  3. leon knight

    David Hand has bucket-loads of form on this site, always useful to provide insights into what the morally and intellectually bankrupt side of politics are up to….I am sure he will endorse Albrechtson for the job, as she has no compunction about lying for cash.

  4. pinkocommierat

    Perhaps the government thinks it hasn’t infuriated enough people yet.

  5. David Hand

    What’s a “Liberal Party plant?

    What lie are you talking about?

  6. Nonda Pass

    How can the ABC remain independent with someone like Janet Albrechtsen on the board. Might as put Rupert Murdoch there and be done with it, as he will be lurking in the background if Ms Albrechtsen is appointed.

  7. Liamj

    @ Graeski – authoritarians like David Hand all think the ABC is politicised, they see anything other than fawning as antagonistic bias. I think its related to their always being or having syncophants, & consequently, incredibly fragile egos.

  8. graybul

    The PM agenda is based upon incremental change designed around ideological objectives. Inserting Albrechtsen onto INDEPENDENT Public Broadcaster Panels overseeing appointments to ABC/SBS Boards are further evidence of that intent.
    Albrechtsen’s appointment, means throttling the independence of the ABC . . SBS to be collateral damage! The Federal Govt objectives are clear. Control of Public Service; imposition of National Security priorities; Unaccountability to both Public and Parliament; Secrecy and oppression of minorities; Re-drafting of legislative, regulative language; Dismantling, removal of much of previous Govt initiatives.
    Is Fascism the ideological driver replacing the compassionate Nation of “the fair go”? Yes!

  9. klewso

    This would have been cleared or initiated from The Credlin?

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