World News – AU – « I have no intention of » firing ABC chairman Ita Buttrose, communications minister says


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Communications Secretary Paul Fletcher said he had no intention of firing ABC Chairman Ita Buttrose after chairing a Four Corners program that exposed suspected matters and bad behavior by two Federal Ministers.

Ms Buttrose is expected to vigorously defend the broadcaster when she replied on Monday to Mr Fletcher’s letter of complaint asking the board to explain how the episode was in the public interest and the standards of an accurate one and impartial journalism.

Mr. Fletcher said he would wait to see Ms. Buttrose’s response before deciding whether to publish it, but said he had confidence in her position as ABC Chair.

ABC Chairman Ita Buttrose is preparing to respond to Mr. Fletcher’s letter asking ABC to explain how the Four Corner episode « Inside the Canberra Bubble » was in the public interest. Photo credit: SMH

« I certainly have no intention of stepping down from the ABC chair. She’s doing an important job, « Fletcher told ABC TV insiders on Sunday.

« Ita Buttrose is a very experienced media figure and I have confidence in the way she acts in her role. She is one of the most prominent media figures in Australia and has a challenging and very important job. « 

Sources within the ABC who were not authorized to speak publicly said Ms. Buttrose was overseeing the board’s response, which would contest any of the 15 questions Mr. Fletcher asked in his letter.

« It will be a very strong defense. The whole board is locked behind Ita, « said an insider.

Four Corner’s episode « Inside the Canberra Bubble, » which aired Nov.. Aired November 11th, 2017 revealed an extramarital affair between Secretary of State Alan Tudge and his then media advisor, Rachelle Miller. It has also been alleged that Attorney General Christian Porter witnessed « cuddles and kisses » by a Liberal worker in Canberra’s public bar, which he has denied.

The episode enraged the coalition members and caused Mr. Fletcher to resign on Jan.. To write to Ms. Buttrose on December 12th, requesting a response to a number of questions within 14 days, including: « Why does the board think politicians’ private lives are worth? »

Mr Fletcher made his letter public by posting it on Twitter, leading to criticism that it was an attempt to undermine the independence of the ABC.

Defending his letter as « perfectly appropriate », he said it was his responsibility as minister to ensure that the ABC meets its legal obligations to produce objective journalism.

« I am the minister in charge of overseeing the ABC. It’s very clear that they have editorial independence, but this is a perfectly fair question to ask myself, « Fletcher said on Sunday.

He added that he expected a « serious and substantial response from one of the most serious and substantial personalities in the Australian media landscape. « 

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Lisa Visentin is a federal political reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age specializing in education and communication.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Ita Buttrose, Paul Fletcher, Minister for Communications, Cybersecurity and the Arts, Media, Alan Tudge

World News – AU – « I have no intention » dismissal of ABC Chairman Ita Buttrose says communications minister


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