The Rudd Labor Government’s newly announced process for selecting ABC and SBS Board members has more holes than a block of Swiss cheese, Senator Simon Birmingham said today.
The Government has based its model on the so-called “Nolan principles” used in the UK to make appointments to the Board of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), which have been widely criticised, including by a committee of the House of Lords:
“What is clear is that this process gives Ministers considerable opportunity to influence the selection. Ministers appointed the selection panel, Ministers were allowed to change the shortlist of candidates and ultimately Ministers were able to choose between four candidates who passed the interview process.”
First Report of Session 2006-07, Lords Communications Committee, 3 August 2007
“Despite being questioned at Senate Estimates on two previous occasions, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has failed to learn any lessons from the BBC experience,” Senator Birmingham said today.
“Nothing in the guidelines prevents the Prime Minister or Ministers from influencing the composition of the selection panel, or even appointing former MPs or senior political staff to it.
“Nothing prevents the Minister from asking for a revised shortlist. And in the end, the Minister can either select his choice from a shortlist of three or simply bypass the shortlist to make his own selection.
“Senator Conroy was unable to point to anywhere in his guidelines that would allay fears this process is little more than a sham.”