Kirstin Ferguson to become ABC acting chairperson

Dr Kirstin Ferguson is set to become ABC’s acting chairperson, following the resignation of Justin Milne amid accusations he interfered with the ABC’s editorial independence.

Dr Ferguson has sat on the ABC board since 2015, and is an experienced director with 10 years’ experience on the ASX100 and ASX200 boards as well as private company and government boards.

She was the creator of the social media campaign #CelebratingWomen, which saw her nominated for the Walkley Foundation’s Our Watch Award for best use of social media. She is also a non-executive director for the Layne Beachley Aim for the Stars Foundation, Hyne Timber, EML and SCA Property Group.

Dr Ferguson said she “loves the ABC” and is “honoured” to be nominated.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will take his pick to the Governor-General today.

“Should the Governor-General accept that recommendation then she [Ferguson] will also be in the position of acting chair of the ABC until such time as a new chair appointment is made through the normal process,” he said.

But there are also questions remaining over the role of the Board in events over recent weeks, including those who supported Justin Milne’s alleged interference into editorial independence. Some observers have called upon the entire Board to go.

“I think it is important for the ABC to restore normal transmission as quickly as possible,” Mr Morrison said.

“There are vacancies and appointments to be made, but it is important that the ABC gets back to work,” he said

Dr Ferguson told ABC, “[It’s] a massive responsibility but I just love the ABC so much, I am just honoured to take it on.”

Statement:

It’s an honour to be appointed as Acting Chair of the Board of Australia’s greatest cultural institution.

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.

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.

I look forward to working with Acting Managing Director David Anderson and his Leadership Team to continue to serve all Australians during this period until a permanent Chair and Managing Director are appointed.

I encourage our teams to continue to do the wonderful work they already do every day. It is important that we keep asking the tough questions, delivering the best in-depth journalism, educating and entertaining our children, and engaging and informing Australians with quality content and stories on all ABC platforms.

There are some key issues I would like to address.

The Board has at all times acted independently. We stand by our decision in relation to the termination of the former Managing Director.

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. We believe in the values of the ABC and we will cooperate with the Departmental inquiry announced by Minister 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.

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