Press release from the Rudd Government

The Rudd Government today introduced a Bill to strengthen the independence of the ABC and SBS Boards, and reinstate the position of staff-elected director to the ABC Board.

"The Rudd Government has made a strong commitment to ensure the future strength and independence of our national broadcasters," Senator Conroy said.

"This new Board appointments scheme and the reinstatement of the ABC staff-elected director demonstrate our resolve to remove political interference and to ensure the independence of the ABC and SBS boards."

The Bill introduced today will enshrine in law a new process where Board candidates are considered and short-listed by an independent Nomination Panel convened by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and established at arm’s length from Government. Guidelines for the new process were released in October 2008 and four appointments under the new scheme were made in March 2009."

"Under the Government’s new process, applications for ABC and SBS Board appointments are now open to every Australian, and advertised in the national press," Senator Conroy said

"For the four recent appointments, the new process delivered an outstanding field of over three hundred applicants from across the community."

"The new selection scheme will ensure that all future appointments to the ABC and SBS Boards are conducted in a manner that fosters independence, transparency, accountability and public confidence."

"Today’s Bill also reinstates the position of staff-elected director on the ABC Board, which was abolished by the Howard Government. The reinstatement of the staff-elected director fulfils Labor’s election commitment."

"The staff-elected director is an important enhancement to the ABC’s independence, providing the Board with a director with unique insight into ABC operations."

"Given their knowledge of the daily operations of the broadcaster, the staff-elected director may often be in the best position to critically examine advice coming to the Board from the ABC’s executive," Senator Conroy said.

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