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Ita Buttrose to Step Down as ABC Chair in 2024

Ita Buttrose, the chair of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), has announced she will not seek reappointment when her term expires in March 2024. Ms. Buttrose has served as chair of the ABC since being recommended by Scott Morrison in 2019.

Ita Buttrose, with the text "Ita Buttrose" foregrounded.

Ms. Buttrose will now remain as Chair of the ABC until her term expires on the 6th of March 2024, with her replacement to be selected by an independent nomination panel. This panel is then supported by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communication and the Arts and an external agency. This panel is then to nominate three potential individuals for the role of chair, with the government in turn to also provide recommendations to the Governor-General.

In a statement Ms. Rowland, praised Ms. Buttrose for her time at the ABC, stating that she was "the right Chair for the right time":

“Ms Buttrose is a giant of Australia’s media industry, and the Government thanks her for her exemplary service as Chair of the ABC... Ms Buttrose is a formidable corporate leader who has served with distinction, speaking truth to power and upholding governance standards to protect independent public broadcasting."

Appointment to the ABC

While in opposition, Ms. Rowland had originally criticised Ms. Buttrose's appointment by Mr. Morrison and his government as a form of "political interference." Ms. Buttrose was not featured in the short-list of candidates selected by the independent panel and was instead recommended by Scott Morrison and described as a "captain's pick."

Despite welcoming her appointment, Ms. Rowland criticised the process:

“Morrison ignored the merit-based recommendations of the nomination panel and reduced the selection process to a week-long media circus of leaks."

Similarly, secretary for the ABC section of the Community and Public Sector Union, Sinddy Ealy, welcomed Ms. Buttrose's media experience and praised the appointment of a woman, but was sceptical of the appointment process:

“...ABC staff are finding it hard to believe that prime minister Scott Morrison and his government have made yet another direct appointment to the ABC board... The Coalition is continuing to treat the ABC like a political plaything rather than following an arm’s-length process that ensures appointments are made in the national interest... Not only has Mr Morrison disregarded the recommendations of the panel that the government themselves appointed to find a new chair, but he has done an enormous disservice to Ms Buttrose herself by tainting her appointment with the whiff of political interference before it has even begun.”

Quentin Dempster, a representative of the ABC alumni group of former employees, also criticised the appointment:

“We object to the appointment of Ita Buttrose as chair of the ABC under these circumstances... Nothing against Ita, but she was not an applicant for the job."

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