The ABC Board carries the ultimate responsibility for the independence and integrity of the national broadcaster. In previous eras both sides of politics made inappropriate partisan appointments to the ABC board. Despite the ‘arm’s length, merit based’ reforms made in 2013, the appointment process has once again become deeply politicised. Basic governance standards are being breached.
Four or five of the six “independent” board members of the ABC were not recommended by the nomination panel, but instead were effectively government appointments made outside of the default process.
Recommendations to improve this process:
1. The process of consultation on the appointment of the chair should be formalised and expanded to include genuine consultation with a cross-party committee, in addition to the Leader of the Opposition.
2. A cross-party committee should be given responsibility for overseeing the ABC Board appointment process, either replacing the current nomination panel, or overseeing it.
3. ABC audiences and the wider public should be more involved. Better publicity around upcoming vacancies and selection criteria should be provided.
4. Consideration should be given to selection of an ‘audience supported board member’. Candidates who wish to make their applications public could publish their profile, CV and interviews on the ABC website. Support from ABC audiences for these nominations could be assessed through online or written submissions.
5. The option for the minister to bypass the nomination process should be removed, or available only with genuine consultation with the shadow minister.