Kim Williams is a big fan of Raf Epstein, the host of ABC Radio Melbourne’s Mornings show. He likes the way Raf connects to his audience. He wants to take the board he chairs out to meet more Australians in regional parts of the country, and he has chosen Melbourne as the place to present his first major policy statement on the ABC, in the near future.

These are just a few of the things I learned from the new chair of the ABC during a meeting with him in Sydney last month. He is open to more meetings and to hearing from us if we have matters we want to discuss with him.

He gave us an hour, myself as Vice-President of ABC Friends, from Victoria, and National President Cassandra Parkinson, from NSW. It was his first few weeks in the job and he was very approachable. You get the feeling he is in listening mode, at least for the time being, and we appreciated the opportunity to meet and share our views.

Before the meeting Cassandra and I considered the most pressing issues we hear regularly from our 70,000 members and supporters, and drew up a checklist to share with the new chair.

The main takeaways from the meeting were:

  • He wants to do a serious piece of analysis to produce a new statement of purpose for the ABC and
    talked of the need for the ABC to represent Australia’s unique national identity.
  • He agreed to make funding a priority - he stated this in confidence as it had not yet been discussed
    with the board. He does not think there will be a funding increase without a change in the
    conversation with Australian people and he thinks the focus should be on the government investing
    in the ABC.
  • He agreed that the ABC should be more forthcoming about the reasons why it makes certain
    decisions and appeared to agree that the ABC should be more outspoken about the impact of cuts.
  • He is keenly interest in communicating more with a wide range of interested parties including
    politicians, organisations like ABCF and, in particular, people in regional areas.
  • He wants the ABC board to meet outside Sydney for half of its meetings each year, with one of those
    meetings to occur in a major regional centre. He also wants to recruit a new board director from
  • He stated that the ABC had become too bland.
  • He sees the five year plan as a PR statement.
  • He was unequivocally supportive of ABC RN – it won’t be downgraded on his watch.
  • He appeared to be impressed that we have over 70,000 supporters – we told him we’d worked hard
    to build that support and intend to build it further in the lead-up to the next election. He stated his
    interest in continuing to cooperate with ABC Friends and will address the Victorian dinner in

We also took the opportunity to leave Kim with a list of our key issues:

It’s a good start, but I’m sure the priorities will chance as his term progresses and we get a better picture of what he has in mind for our precious national broadcaster over the next five years.

Get involved (here) with ABC Friends near you if you’d like to have a say on the shape and impact of the digital revolution now underway at our ABC.


Carol Stuart
National Vice President