If we can't kill it we'll just turn it into us.
Coalition handpicks mining lobbyist for ABC board position
Government bypasses independent nomination panel to announce Vanessa Guthrie for vacancy
Monday 27 February 2017 17.40 AEDT
Last modified on Monday 27 February 2017 18.08 AEDT
The Coalition has handpicked Western Australian mining lobbyist Vanessa Guthrie to sit on the ABC board, bypassing the independent nomination panel.
Guthrie is the chair of the Minerals Council of Australia and until December was managing director of uranium developer Toro Energy.
Along with Queensland rural leader and businesswoman Georgina Somerset, Guthrie has been appointed by the government to sit on the ABC board for a period of five years.
But unlike Somerset who was put on a shortlist by the independent nomination panel, Guthrie was chosen directly by the government, which is allowed under the legislation but is not common practice.
“Dr Guthrie also participated in the nomination panel process and whilst not on the panel’s final list of recommendations, was identified by the government as having the requisite skills to be a suitable appointment to the board,” a statement from the communications minister, Mitch Fifield, said.
“The government thanks the nomination panel for its work undertaking the selection process and providing a list of nominees for the government’s consideration.
“I congratulate Dr Guthrie and Ms Somerset on their appointments and look forward to seeing the valuable contributions they will make to the ABC board.”
The managing director of the ABC Michelle Guthrie – no relation to Vanessa Guthrie – is expected to face Senate estimates on Tuesday ahead of a major restructure of the ABC to be announced next week.
Last year Vanessa Guthrie told the Australian Financial Review she was concerned about social activists who want to stop development.
“[The east coast] is severely under attack from social activism,” she said. “It needs all the help it can get. But it means that the rest of the minerals industry gets somewhat tarnished by the coal debate and I think unfairly. I think coal is under attack unfairly so, even though I am a very strong advocate of clean energy and renewables, but coal has a role as does uranium and nuclear power.”
She also targeted activists who used social media to get their message across.
“Every social activist uses a mobile phone and tweets,” she said. “Where do you think a mobile phone comes from?” she asks. “Sixty-one minerals are in a mobile phone. Sixty-one different elements that the world mines to produce mobile phones are in there. Without mining you wouldn’t have an iPhone. And how do you think it gets powered?”
The nominations panel is appointed by the prime minister’s department and is tasked with conducting a selection process based on merit and providing the communications minister with a shortlist of three candidates for each position.
The Australian’s conservative columnist Janet Albrechtsen was replaced on the panel last year by public relations executive Anne Fulwood. The nomination panel is currently working on a replacement for the chair of the ABC Jim Spigelman.
Emeritus Prof Sally Walker and the former managing director of Medibank Private George Savvides were also appointed to the board of the SBS for a period of five years.