Abbott needs to come clean on ABC and SBS appointments

Shadow Minister for Communications Jason Clare has today called on Tony Abbott to come clean and tell the Australian people if he or his office put pressure on the Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Ian Watt to appoint Janet Albrechtsen and Neil Brown to the Nominations Panel for ABC and SBS board appointments.

Something doesn’t smell right here. It beggars belief that a senior public servant of the calibre of Ian Watt would appoint these people off his own bat.

He has been pressured by the Prime Minister or his staff.

The hypocrisy of this government is breathtaking. In October last year the Government forced Barry Cassidy to resign as Chair of the Old Parliament House Advisory Council because he was a journalist.

Attorney-General George Brandis reportedly said at the time that it was his “strong view” that it is not appropriate for journalists or politicians involved in the political process to sit on such boards.

Now the government has appointed another journalist to the Nominations Panel for ABC and SBS board appointments.

They have also appointed Neil Brown, the former Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, who has called for the privatisation of the ABC.

The Opposition has today lodged a Freedom of Information request to get to the bottom of this.

We have requested all relevant e-mails, text messages, letters, notes of meetings, briefs, reports and instructions from the Prime Minister’s office, Malcolm Turnbull’s office, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Department of Communications.

This is all about stacking the ABC board to try and kill it because the government thinks the ABC is the enemy. It’s as simple as that.

The problem is most people like the ABC and they don’t like this government.