ABC could be without a boss for six months
YOUR ABC bags more than $1 billion a year but that's not about to buy the taxpayer a new chairman for the national broadcaster any time soon.
The hot seat at Ultimo could remain empty of a permanent chair for close to six months by the time a confirmed candidate emerges from a tangle of red tape and political interest.
Since the board is responsible for choosing a new managing director, it's anyone's guess how long before that vacant position is filled.
Justin Milne's spectacular departure from the chairman's role in September, days after he presided over the sacking of managing director Michelle Guthrie, has set in train a complex recruitment process.
But as Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently reminded the Opposition, the appointment is ultimately his call.
A day after a 4 Corners investigation lay bare the chaotic relationship between Mr Milne and Ms Guthrie, Morrison government sources said the appointment of a new chairman would not be confirmed until early next year, possibly February.
There is a merit-based process in place to recruit directors - involving an independent nominations panel and in the case of the chair, an external recruitment agency.
However, if previous board appointments are any indication, candidates need not get the seal of approval from the panel to get a seat on the board.
Four serving ABC directors - Donny Walford, Vanessa Guthrie, Joseph Gersh and acting chair Kirstin Ferguson - were either not accessed or not recommended by the panel, yet got the green light from Communications Minister Mitch Fifield to take a seat on the board.
Labor Leader Bill Shorten has said the Opposition should have a say in who oversees the public broadcaster, especially so close to next year's federal election.
But Mr Morrison batted off the suggestion, saying last month: "The elected government makes appointments to these boards."
Mr Shorten yesterday said a lack of transparency in recruitment and political interference was to blame for the failure of leadership at the ABC: "I really think it shows the failure of political appointments without transparency or accountability to the senior levels of the ABC, the board."
Both the panel which nominates candidates for chairman and the recruitment agency hired to find them have come under fire for links to big business and the Liberal Party.
The chairman of the nomination panel is former Treasury Secretary and Westpac bank chair, Ted Evans, while panel member Neil Brown is a former Liberal minister who has in the past said if it was up to him he would "scrap the ABC and start over".
The agency running the search for a new chair is Korn Ferry, and the boss of the division responsible for finding the right chairman is former state Liberal minister Robert Webster, who in June 2017 donated $15,375 to the Liberal Party.
The ABC declined to comment yesterday on what the board was doing about finding a new managing director. Nor would it comment on Ms Guthrie's explosive claims - denied by Mr Milne - that he touched her inappropriately at a board dinner.
The ABC has appointed barrister Jonathan Forbes to investigate Ms Guthrie's claims but has refused to be transparent about any part of this process. "The name of the adviser has not been disclosed. The adviser will report back to the Board; the findings will not be published," a spokeswoman for the ABC said yesterday.
Boards and brawls
ABC appoints Google executive Michelle Guthrie to replace Mark Scott as the Managing Director of the ABC from May, 2016.
The ABC announces it will cut up to a fifth of its management - or around 200 jobs - and use the savings to invest in regional jobs and extra digital output.
The date of a board dinner at Billie Kwong's restaurant at which Ms Guthrie alleges Mr Milne inappropriately touched her on her back. Mr Milne vehemently denies the allegation.
The ABC publishes an analysis piece by economics reporter Emma Alberici on proposed company tax cuts which is later found to have contained errors. Mr Milne and Ms Guthrie later discuss "external development opportunities" for Ms Alberici.
Ms Guthrie blasts the federal government after $84 million in funding cuts is announced, telling staff the decision would make it difficult for the ABC "to meet its charter requirements".
JUNE 15, 2018
Mr Milne allegedly asks Ms Guthrie to fire ABC political editor Andrew Probyn, telling her "you have to shoot him" after then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull expressed dissatisfaction about his reporting.
The ABC launches a new
$8 million lifestyle website, ABC Life, despite lobby groups slamming the move.
SEPTEMBER 24, 2018
The ABC sacks Ms Guthrie only two-and-a-half years into her five-year term. A "devastated" Ms Guthrie threatens legal action.
SEPTEMBER 27, 2018
Mr Milne announces he will step down as ABC chairman after a "firestorm" of allegations against him.
NOVEMBER 12, 2018
4 Corners airs expose on the acrimonious relationship between
Mr Milne and Ms Guthrie, including her allegation from the board dinner.