The Turnbull government is becoming as slow and controlling as the Abbott administration was insofar as making key appointments — so far as broadcasting policies are concerned. The snail-like pace of reform of the reach and ownership rules is now the stuff of legend, but eyebrows are now being raised by the delays to naming the new leadership of the key media regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority. Longtime chairman Chris Chapman retired after 10 years in the role in February of this year. In the wake of Chapman’s retirement, ACMA deputy chairman Richard Bean was named acting chairman, while full-time authority member James Cameron became acting deputy chair, and making the positions permanent would have been very easy, especially as the two men concerned have the respect and standing in the media. But there are now just four members of the ACMA board — the two named above and two part-time members. The organisation is down two more full-time members. The 2014-15 annual report listed eight full-time and part-time members.
The job of naming a full-time chair and deputy chair falls to Communications Minister Senator Mitch Fifield. It is understood the federal government has had a report since April recommending the new chair and deputy and other positions — a decision could have easily been made well before calling the July 2 poll in May. After all, Attorney-General George Brandis made 56 appointments just before the government went into caretaker role in May. The government has had the best part of two months since the poll results were known to announce these important appointments, but it hasn’t. Rod Sims, the head of the ACCC, was appointed a part-time member in 2011 for four years, which is very curious given the competition regulator has started a review of how competition and trade practices law will mesh with the proposed changes to the media rules. An organisation chart dated August 19 doesn’t list Sims among the part-time members of the authority. So what’s the delay?