Ita right to steady the ship

The ABC is a national treasure, and a favourite among Australians aged over 55. However, 65 per cent of the 1167 respondents in the Friday Flash Poll, Does the ABC need saving?, think the public broadcaster is in need of saving and, maybe, that the Government has found the right person to do it.

Almost seven in 10 said the public broadcaster was a trustworthy source of news. However, 21 per cent believed it was suspect and 20 per cent were unsure, suggesting that the ABC could do with a steady hand to regain the trust of these Australians.

Enter Ita Buttrose, the woman selected by the Prime Minister as the best person to lead the ABC – a selection that has proven popular with YourLifeChoices members, with 60 per cent of those surveyed saying that Ita is the right person for the job.

The majority were happy with Scott Morrison’s ‘captain’s pick’, with 56 per cent of those surveyed saying they didn’t care that Ita’s name was not on the original shortlist.

However, some respondents expressed concern at the selection.

“What does it tell you? [The PM] has to pick the person for the position instead of the ABC board. Buttrose worked for Murdoch and Packer. She has plenty of experience of telling lies. I can’t believe that so many in the poll think this is a right decision. Next, we will have Murdoch running the ABC. Let the ABC choose the right person for the job. The board knows what it needs. That’s why it has been so successful,” wrote Jackie.

“The captain’s pick by Morrison is unfortunate, as he has overridden the more qualified people and given the job to a less qualified person who was not on the shortlist,” wrote GeorgeM.

When asked if 77 is too old to take on such an important role, six in 10 said ‘no’, 27 per cent said ‘yes’ and 12 per cent were unsure. One of those was YourLifeChoices member, Chrissy L.

“I have great admiration for Ita Buttrose in a professional sense. She has achieved a great deal in the media and is an Australian icon and I think she will do a good job. I do, however, have a problem with the Government spending a huge amount of money on a wasted HR exercise only to give a captain’s pick to Ita. Fairness and transparency are important in any appointment, especially this close to an election. I am also concerned at giving a five-year contract to someone at the age of 77 years. If our judges have to retire at 70 what is different for this appointment?” she wrote.

Most think Ita has the will to maintain the ABC’s independence, with six in 10 saying she’s the right person to ensure that the ABC regains its integrity.

“Seems like a good choice to me. She has a lot of experience in the media and I don’t think anyone will be able to influence her,” wrote Snowflake.

There have long been suggestions that the ABC is too left-leaning, which is why the Government has it in its crosshairs. Still, some people are concerned about the ABC maintaining balance.

“I heard Ita on the news last night and she seemed to be saying she needed to ‘fix’ the ABC. This worries me as there is nothing wrong with the ABC other than the fact it reports the bad stuff from the right as well as the misbehaviour of big business. These are the reasons the current Government has cut funding several times and has talked about selling off the ABC. Australians would welcome Buttrose as long as she is not there to do a job for right wing interests. I’d say that will become clear very quickly,” wrote YourLifeChoices member Mick.

“On the other hand Mick, they need to get rid of the left wing overkill the ABC has been suffering from,” wrote Trood.

Other members would take more drastic measures.

“The only thing that can save the ABC is it becoming more objective and fairer in its reporting and move away from its leftist socialist bias. Don’t see that happening – the place is infested. Only way to clean it up is to call in the exterminators, strip it down to a lean low-cost media channel and flog it off to the highest bidder. Will save the taxpayer $2 billion a year and the proceeds of the sale could pay down labor debt,” wrote Lothario.

There is little doubt that the debate over the ABC’s political leanings will continue, but for now, most people are prepared to give Ita the chance to make the ABC great again.

Do you think the ABC leans left? Can Ita steady the ship? Do you agree with any of our members’ comments?

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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