Carr says 'biased' ABA boss must go

Carr says 'biased' ABA boss must go, by Alex Mitchell - 2nd May 2004
(Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

Embattled media watchdog Professor David Flint has only two options: to resign forthwith or be sacked by Prime Minister John Howard, Premier Bob Carr said yesterday.

Mr Carr said that it was "unthinkable" that Professor Flint should be allowed to stay as chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Authority until his term expired on October 4.

"Professor Flint appears to have lost the confidence of his own board and he has certainly lost the confidence of people in the media industry and the general public," he said.

"He should go. He should go now.

"It would be easier by far if the Prime Minister bows to the inevitable and removes him."

Mr Howard was drawn into the week-long Sydney media row when it was claimed he had reappointed Professor Flint to the ABA chairmanship at the urging of 2GB part-owner and morning host Alan Jones.

Mr Howard denied that Jones had influenced his decision to support Professor Flint, one of the country's leading monarchists who led the Prime Minister's battalions in the vote against the republic in 1998.

Jones also said the claims were untrue.

Expressing his dismay over Professor Flint's refusal to step down, Mr Carr said the six-member ABA board could force its chairman out by resigning en masse.

"The board members could state boldly that they will resign if he [Flint] doesn't, and then make themselves available for reappointment by the Federal Government when Professor Flint goes," he said.

Board members include former SBS managing director Malcolm Long, high-profile media lawyer Ian Robertson, Jane Marquard, a former executive with Mr Kerry Packer's PBL, and Lyn Maddock, formerly with the Productivity Commission and Westpac.

Mr Carr said Australia desperately needed a diverse media because "democracy thrives where there is a multiplicity of media voices, overlapping, contradicting and criticising.

"It is just so vital to our democracy and way of life that regulating the electronic media can't be left in the hands of someone who is so biased and compromised."

Mr Carr said that removing Professor Flint from the inquiry into the ABC's coverage of the US-led invasion of Iraq had shown his unsuitability for the ABA chairmanship.

"If he can't undertake the inquiry into the ABC's war coverage, what other duties can he conceivably perform? It must mean that he is unsuitable to conduct an inquiry into the commercial media as well. Surely this is an unassailable reason for the professor to leave straight away."

Mr Carr said that until the Flint-Jones letters were revealed on the ABC's Media Watch last Monday, he had "no inkling" that the two men were so closely involved.

He said that Professor Flint's "studied and pontifical voice" made him sound like "someone who was auditioning for a vice-regal part with the Pymble Players".


Official websites

Australian Broadcasting Authority

NSW Premier Bob Carr

Prime Minister of Australia

ABC Media Watch



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