ABC Alumni, an association of former staff of the ABC, have raised concerns that the public broadcaster’s independence could “fail” as staff “self-censor”.
A statement from the ABC Alumni board, which is chaired by Jonathan Holmes and includes Janet Clayton, Quentin Dempster, Gael Jennings, Sandra Levy and Alan Sunderland, has raised concerns about the issues emerging from the impact of the broadcaster’s current Fair Work case with Antoniette Lattouf.
The ABC Alumni statement said: ABC Alumni’s prime concern about this particular incident is the perception that the ABC has ‘buckled’ to outside pressure.”
The statement points to the media reports that revealed “a coordinated campaign” that was “addressed to the Chair and Managing Director of the ABC” calling for Antionette Lattouf to be removed from her role.
The ABC Alumni referenced last week’s statement from ABC managing director David Anderson, who rejected “any claim that it has been influenced by any external pressure, whether it be an advocacy or lobby group, a political party, or commercial entity”.
However, it suggested that Anderson’s statement “leaves many questions unanswered”, with the association raising concerns that the incident could impact ABC’s prime role as an independent broadcaster.
“The ABC’s independence is of paramount importance to the role it performs for the Australian public.
“Staff who live in constant fear of retribution, rather than confidence in the procedurally fair processes of accountability, can quickly become self-censoring. Instead of being fearless as required by the ABC Act and ABC Charter, they can become fearful.
“An ABC Board and management which does not deliver both a collegially supportive and professionally accountable internal culture will fail in their duty to protect the ABC’s independence.”
The statement also points to the recent resignations of other high-profile ABC staff Nour Haydar and Stan Grant, who both complained about the lack of support from the ABC on social media.
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