Ron Brunton appointed to ABC Board | radioinfo

Ron Brunton appointed to ABC Board

Monday 05 May, 2003

The Minister for Communications, Senator Alston has appointed Dr Ron Brunton as a Director of the ABC to replace retiring director Michael Kroger.

Brunton's "achievements in anthropology and indigenous issues and his media and communications experience will be of great benefit to the ABC" according to Senator Alston.

He is currently the Director of Encompass Research Pty Ltd-an organisation engaged in anthropological and socio-economic research. A widely published writer, Brunton has been a fortnightly columnist for The Courier-Mail since 1997, and was a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs from 1995-2001.

The appointment is for five years commencing 1 May 2003.

Critising the appointment Labor's Communications spokesman Lindsay Tanner called Dr Brunton's appointment "a disgrace:"

"Ron Brunton is an ideological zealot. He's been put on the ABC board by John Howard to turn it into a propaganda arm of the Howard government. He's got no credentials, no background in public broadcasting. It is a disgrace that he is being appointed to the ABC board."

Following the appointment of Dr Ron Brunton to the board of the ABC, Friends of the ABC have called on the government to reform the process by which appointments are made to the ABC board. Commenting on the appointment Friends of the ABC spokesperson Darce Cassidy said:

“ I think it is fair to describe Dr Brunton as an ideological zealot. This in itself does not disqualify him from the ABC board. There is a legitimate place for zealots in public life. Our problem is with the political balance on the ABC board, and with the appointment process.”

“In selecting commentators to appear on its programs, the ABC is, quite properly, required to provide a balance of opinion. But in selecting members of the ABC board the government appoints the usual suspects time after time. Dr Brunton replaces well known Liberal identity Michael Kroger. He joins conservative economist Professor Judith Sloan, Chairman of the Stock Exchange Maurice Newman, former Liberal politician Ross McLean and John Howard’s friend Donald McDonald on the board.”

“We have nothing against Dr Brunton as such, and wish him well. We are concerned that the ABC board fails the balance test. Any ABC producer who chose the government appointed members of the ABC board as the panel for a current affairs discussion would be quickly found guilty of bias”

“Not only does the government appoint the usual suspects, but the process itself is also suspect. It happens secretly, and without any apparent relationship to the qualifications required to run a half billion dollar a year organisation. It is time that the government followed the example of the Conservative government in the UK an implemented an open, transparent and non-partisan method of finding qualified people to run our national broadcaster.”

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