ABC Friends welcomes the appointment of Kim Williams, AM, as the incoming Chair of the ABC Board.

Image: ABC

Mr Williams comes to the position with an impressive background in media, the arts and sport which will be of great value to the ABC during a time of unprecedented change.

ABC Friends is pleased that, in making the appointment, the Prime Minister did not make a Captain’s Pick. This follows Minister Rowland’s recent appointment of two new board members where she also complied with the provisions in the ABC ACT. It is an important first step in strengthening the ABC’s independence and building trust in its integrity.

ABC Friend urges Mr Williams to advocate for adequate funding to enable the ABC to do its job as Australia’s public broadcaster. Following a decade of sustained cuts the ABC has become a shadow of its former self. Numerous programs have been discontinued or wound back. ABC directors are forced to do more with shrinking budgets; new initiatives can only be introduced if other programs or services are cut.

Mr Williams takes the reins at a difficult time. There is deep concern that an external lobbying campaign sought to pressure the board to terminate an employee’s contract. The legal challenge to that dismissal is currently under way in the Fair Work Commission. Claims of bias or timidity in the ABC’s coverage of the Israel-Gaza war are also troubling.

Complaints to the ABC are not new but it is essential that the board resist external pressure and defend staff robustly. To guard against perceptions of bias there should be greater transparency on complaints or attempts to interfere in the ABC’s management or editorial decisions. ABC Friends will be looking to Mr Williams to vigorously defend the ABC’s independence.

The ABC is one of Australia’s great treasures. It has a long history of providing programs that inform, educate and enrich us culturally. It holds a special place for all Australians but years of intimidation and hostility have taken their toll.

We look forward to working with Mr Williams to restore the ABC as an organisation of which all Australians can be proud.

Cassandra Parkinson
ABC Friends National