A Cosy Relationship (Between Government and the ‘Free Press’)

Here is what Wikipedia says about Australia’s ABC:

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) is Australia’s national broadcaster founded in 1929. It is currently principally funded by direct grants from the Australian government, but is expressly independent of Government and politics. The ABC plays a leading role in journalistic independence and is fundamental in the history of broadcasting in Australia.

The ABC is almost totally reliant upon tax-payer funding as determined and paid by the whim of the Australian government. In recent years the current Liberal (Conservative/Right wing) government has been responsible for serious cutbacks to their budget at the same time as many right wing publications such as those owned by Rupert Murdoch have been strongly critical of the ABC for having too big a budget (??) and contain a strong left wing ‘bias’ (Compared to them it would seem Donald Trump would be considered a Communist, but since his 2 new ‘besties’ are now Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un maybe they’ve got a point? (No Collusion!)).

Last year there were serious questions being asked about the political independence of the ABC after some senior journalistic staff were harshly penalised (e.g. taken off air) when they made reports that were critical of some Ministerial actions. It was a poorly kept secret that the Prime Minister of the country (and several other government Ministers!) were very unhappy with the reporting and is alleged to have told the ABC’s Board Chairman this (with implication that government funding would be reviewed if reporters remained in their current position or the ABC continued being critical of the government).

The situation escalated to the point where the General Manager was sacked by the Chairman half way through her 5 year term because, she says, she would not discipline the staff who she felt were doing her job correctly. (This was not the official version from the Chairman who sited an unsatisfactory management ‘style’!) Ultimately both the Chairman and the GM both lost their jobs and it has taken over 6 months before a new Chairman has been appointed. The GM position is still being filled by an acting GM while a replacement is sought.

Since 2007 the Government, in an attempt to avoid claims of political bias and interference in appointments to the Board, established a panel to seek appointees and determine the most suitable candidates, which were then to be finally approved by the Communications Minister, who could veto the recommended appointees, but would have to justify his reasons to Parliament.

It would seem that as usual, Government never does things they don’t want done, they just want to be ‘seen’ as doing those things, because virtually none of the independent boards recommendations for Chair of the ABC have been accepted by governments of either political persuasion and it is the Government of the Day who appoints the ‘politically independent’ Commission’s Chairman and Board members.

It should therefore be of no great surprise that after six months of the independent panel’s seeking, interviewing, shortlisting and finally recommending, of the applicant’s and appointees for the position, today the Prime Minister of the country announced that the new Chair of the ABC was not one of the (all male) applicants or the final recommended appointee, but Ita Buttrose, a well known commercial journalistic editor previously employed by Rupert Murdoch and Australian billionaire media family, The Packer’s, in their flagship media companies. Ita had not previously been bothered applying for the position, having been quite happily employed working for a CBS owned Australian morning TV panel show. She is 77 years of age with over 50 years of media experience, mostly as a magazine editor, and presumably thought better of trying to run a taxpayer funded national media organisation* but seems to have been made an offer she could not refuse by our PM in a personal ‘Captain’s Pick’.

Ita Buttrose AO OBE

I’m quite certain Ms Buttrose will run a tight ship in her newly and presumably unexpected position in the Nation’s most trusted media outlet (with an 80% approval rating) and would make quite sure her benefactor’s concerns regarding unfavourable ‘inaccurate’ political reporting will not arise as an issue to trouble the government for at least as long as she and the government hold office.

*  ” I’ve had five great years on Studio 10, but it is time for me to move on and focus on other parts of my life, including spending more time with my grandchildren and writing.”

Quote from Ms Buttrose in April 2018 after retiring from her last day job.

Maybe she’s bored with her grandkids already?




    • It’s a spreading and ever increasing and ever more obvious story – they don’t even seem to try to hide it anymore? Your President has the right to hand pick appointments to do what he wants, ours does not and taxpayers are paying for an independent selection panel to determine who gets these appointments – which is then blatantly disregarded in favour of the leader’s favourite? 😦

      As for Rupert, I’m not sure we could convince him – even if we wanted to… which we definitely don’t! 🙂



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