Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has appointed Kirstin Ferguson as acting chair of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) board following a tumultuous week for the Australian pubcaster.
As of Friday (September 27), Ferguson (pictured) takes on the role of acting chair while a formal process of selecting and appointing a chair of the board through the mandated process takes place.
She will work closely alongside acting managing director David Anderson and his leadership team to “continue to serve all Australians” until a permanent chair and managing director are appointed.
The selection of a new managing director is to be made independently of the government or opposition, according to Australian law.
Ferguson takes on the interim position after the resignation of former chairman Justin Milne, who exited the pubcaster last week following accusations that he had told previous MD Michelle Guthrie to sack senior ABC reporter Emma Alberici on the grounds that the Australian government “hates” her. Prior to Milne’s exit, Guthrie was fired from her position as managing director.
“My commitment to the board, the employees of the ABC and the Australian public is to defend, maintain and uphold the independence of the national broadcaster at all times,” said Ferguson in a statement. “All ABC employees can be confident they have the full backing of the board to carry out their work independently without any threat of political interference.”
Additionally, Ferguson noted that the ABC’s board has “at all times acted independently”, and that the pubcaster stands by its decision regarding the termination of former MD Guthrie.
“I understand there is genuine public concern about the events of the past week and I want to make it clear we share these concerns,” she added. “We believe in the values of the ABC and we will cooperate with the departmental inquiry announced by Minister [Mitch] Fifield in accordance with the ABC Act. My priority now is to work with David Anderson to provide leadership and stability to the ABC at this critical time.”
Ferguson has served on the board of Australia’s national broadcaster since November 2015 as a non-executive director. In addition to the ABC, she also sits on the boards of SCA Property Group Limited, EML Payments Limited, Hyne Timber, and Layne Beachley’s Aim for the Stars Foundation.