The Guardian 9 March, 2005

Another privateer on ABC board

Janet Albrechtsen's appointment to the ABC board has prompted calls for future directors to be selected on "merit". The appointment of the right-wing propagandist, who has publicly criticised and ridiculed the national broadcaster, is being viewed by some commentators as a Howard government celebration of "total victory" in the culture wars.

It comes hard on the heels of other ideological fellow travellers, including the notorious David Flint, to once-independent broadcasting bodies. Albrechtsen, a lawyer-turned columnist, was accused of "plagiarism" and "distortion" by the ABC's Media Watch program after a column in which she argued gang rape should be seen as an ethnic issue.

Rather than answer a series of specific allegations about her sources and interpretations, she sent program makers a threatening letter from another lawyer.

Other Howard government appointments have included Liberal Party heavyweight Michael Kroger and Institute of Public Affairs ideologue, Ron Brunton.

Albrechtsen, an advocate of hacking off the public teat, will, instead, suck on it for the next five years. Community and Public Sector Union ABC Section Secretary, Graeme (Grumpy) Thomson, said the board had been stacked with lawyers, accountants and business people.

"Staff, viewers and listeners could be forgiven for wondering why the government doesn't actually appoint someone who actually knows about broadcasting or program-making", Mr Thomson said.

"These positions should be advertised and filled on merit. That way ministers would have to justify their decisions."

The one board member with broadcasting experience, staff-elected director, Ramona Koval, also criticised the appointment. She said Albrechtsen was "hostile" to the very philosophy of public broadcasting.

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