September 28, 2018 10:18:54
Scott Morrison says he will nominate Dr Kirstin Ferguson to be the ABC’s acting chairperson, after a week of unprecedented chaos at the national broadcaster.
- The nomination comes after chairman Justin Milne resigned amid accusations he interfered with the ABC’s editorial independence
- Dr Ferguson said she “loves the ABC” and is “honoured” to be nominated as acting chair
- The broadcaster’s managing director Michelle Guthrie was sacked on Monday
The Prime Minister made the announcement in Sydney, and confirmed he would take his pick to the Governor–General today.
Mr Morrison said he wanted Dr Ferguson to be the ABC’s deputy chairperson.
“Should the Governor-General accept that recommendation then she [Ferguson] will also be in the position of acting chair of the ABC until such time as a new chair appointment is made through the normal process,” he said.
Dr Ferguson has sat on the ABC board since 2015, and is an experienced director with 10 years’ experience on the ASX100 and ASX200 boards as well as private company and government boards.
She was the creator of the social media campaign #CelebratingWomen, which saw her nominated for the Walkley Foundation’s Our Watch Award for best use of social media.
Senior ABC staff have begun questioning the corporation’s board after managing director Michelle Guthrie was sacked on Monday, and chairman Justin Milne resigned on Thursday.
Speaking on ABC Radio Melbourne, Mr Morrison turned up the heat on directors, saying they should resign if “they haven’t done their jobs”.
However, his rhetoric was more measured later, when he said: “I think it is important for the ABC to restore normal transmission as quickly as possible.”
“There are vacancies and appointments to be made, but it is important that the ABC gets back to work,” he said
Radio National presenter Patricia Karvelas said Dr Ferguson told her: “[It’s] a massive responsibility but I just love the ABC so much, I am just honoured to take it on.”
Staff turn up heat on board
Mr Milne — a close friend of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull — resigned after a litany of reports accused him of interfering in the broadcaster’s editorial independence.
Ms Guthrie’s sacking — which she said left her “devastated” and considering her legal options — came as a surprise on Monday.
An urgent all-staff meeting was held at the broadcaster’s Ultimo headquarters on Monday.
In the wake of the departures, ABC presenter Leigh Sales questioned the board’s judgment.
Four Corners reporter Sophie McNeil — a former foreign correspondent — tweeted: “Chairman Milne is now gone but serious questions remain for the entire ABC Board.”
The ABC’s staff-elected director Jane Connors has sat on the board since May.
On Monday, Ms Connors said Ms Guthrie’s sacking was “in the best interests of the ABC”.
However, in an email to one staff member later in the week, Ms Connors described the subsequent headlines about Mr Milne as “distressing”.
Paul Barry, who presents the ABC’s Media Watch program, said the board needed an overhaul and the directors and chair must be transparent, merit-based and bipartisan.
“It’s time for governments of all colours to stop stacking the board with their political or ideological mates,” he said.
September 28, 2018 09:34:40