The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, today welcomed the passage through Parliament of the National Broadcasting Legislation Amendment Bill 2010 (NBLA).
"This Bill fulfils two important and longstanding Labor commitments. It legislates a transparent and democratic board appointment process for the ABC and SBS, and it restores the staff-elected director on the ABC board," Senator Conroy said.
"Until Labor came to Government in 2007, ABC and SBS board appointments were made by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the government of the day. In practice, this arrangement resulted in long-running concerns that the appointments were often politically motivated.
"The new process addresses these concerns and ensures that the best candidates are appointed to the boards of these important cultural institutions," Senator Conroy said.
"Under this process, all vacancies for non-executive directors on the ABC and SBS boards are advertised nationally, and any Australian can apply. An independent panel then conducts a merit-based selection process and provides advice to the Government on suitable appointments."
This arm’s length process has been used to fill all vacancies on the ABC and SBS boards since 2009 and has resulted in the appointment of 10 exceptional new directors to the boards.
"This amendment enshrines the merit-based appointment process in the legislation of both broadcasters and will ensure it is used consistently to fill all future non-executive Director vacancies," Senator Conroy said.
The Bill also reinstates the position of a staff-elected director on the ABC board.
"The staff-elected director plays an important role in enhancing the ABC’s independence by providing the board with a unique and important insight into ABC operations," Senator Conroy said.
"These changes increase the transparency and democratic accountability of the ABC and SBS boards. It further strengthens our national broadcasters, ensuring they will continue to provide Australians with high quality broadcasting services, free from political interference."
26 June 2012