A little Recent History about Board Stacking at Our ABC

Up to seven directors are appointed to the ABC board on the recommendation of the government.(AAP: Danny Casey)

AS recently as May 2021 the former NEWS CORP Chief, and a Channel 7 executive were appointed among new ABC Board members!

‘Former News Corp chief, Channel 7 executive among new ABC board members’


A TWITTER STORM ensued last week across social media about the very biased reporting that became apparent on Our ABC in the leadup to the Federal Election! With some research it was readily apparent that a number of ABC journalists previously worked for Murdoch!

Former News Corp and Foxtel Chief, Peter Tonagh, former Seven Executive, Mario D’Orazio, and former QANTAS and Telstra Chief Information Officer, Fiona Balfour were appointed for five-year terms, beginning immediately in May 2021.

Mr Tonagh was most recently involved in the effort to save newswire Australian Associated Press, which received $15 million in funding over two years in the latest federal budget.

He was also Co-Leader of the Government’s Efficiency Review into the ABC and SBS in 2018. *  About the funding and job cuts perhaps?

Mr D’Orazio spent 30 years with Channel Seven Perth, including eight as managing director. In 2019, he was also appointed to the Australia Council board, the Australian government’s principal arts funding body, for three years.

Ms Balfour, meanwhile, has extensive experience in the aviation, telecommunications, financial services and education sectors.

View:  ‘The ABC Board’ at 2021:

The ABC Board

IN October 2018 Mike Seccombe wrote in The Saturday Paper,  ‘ABC BOARD stacking rife’

WITH the majority of the current ABC Board Members appointed by Mitch Fifield Communications Minister in the Turnbull Government, it is perhaps no wonder, they have come from backgrounds in real estate and mining!  Only two board members had the relevant media experience!

6 of the 8 ABC Board Members have been involved in real estate and/or mining:

Mike Seccombe revealed that:

-the most blatant stack was when John Howard gave directorships to lunar-right luminaries Janet Albrechtsen, Keith Windschuttle and Ron Brunton

Maurice Newman served two stints on the ABC board; the first was truncated after evidence came to light of his partisan political interference

In 2009, Labor moved to apply the principles of a report on ABC board appointments.

They were pretty simple:

-positions should be openly advertised

-the applicants assessed by an independent panel and then further interviewed

-and then the successful candidate would be publicly announced

‘The Labor government also was intent on restoring a staff-appointed member to the ABC board.

Nick Minchin, godfather of the Liberal Party’s hard right, then shadow minister for communications, got to his feet in the Senate to express his concerns. The Liberal Party, he made clear, was dead against allowing the workers any say in the ABC’s governance.

It wasn’t Labor that did it.

It was Mitch Fifield, communications minister in the Turnbull government. Almost as soon as he was given the portfolio Fifield set about appointing people to the ABC board without regard to whether the nominations panel approved of them.

The long-running practice of stacking the ABC board with politically partisan appointees has come under renewed criticism after the rancorous departures of Justin Milne and Michelle Guthrie.’

‘ABC Board Stacking Rife’


And earlier in 2016

‘Enshrine ABC independence in the constitution: Australia Institute’

A report by the progressive ‘Australia Institute’ argued that the independence of the ABC should be preserved in the Australian Constitution to prevent politicians interfering with its charter.

And that Australian constituents ought have a role in selecting ABC Board Members, and for funding to be depoliticised.