The merit-based appointment process
The merit-based appointment process ensures that the process for appointing new non‑executive directors to the ABC and SBS boards fosters transparency, accountability and public confidence. The process, which has been used for all new appointments of non‑executive directors to the ABC and SBS boards since 2009, has now been formalised by amendments to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983 (ABC Act) and the Special Broadcasting Service Act 1991 (SBS Act).
The merit-based appointment process is summarised as follows.
- The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (the Minister) will advise an incumbent non-executive director in writing, at least four months before the expiry of their appointment whether it is intended to reappoint them, not reappoint them, or to advertise the position to test the field.
- A merit-based selection process with the following features will apply for filling vacancies:
- vacancies will be widely advertised, at a minimum in the national press and the website of the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
- the assessment of candidates' claims will be undertaken by an independent nomination panel established at arm's length from the government
- the assessment of candidates by the nomination panel will be made against a core set of selection criteria, supplemented where necessary by additional criteria as agreed by the Minister
- a report will be provided by the nomination panel to the Minister with a shortlist of recommended candidates.
- A broad definition of merit will be applied to ABC and SBS board appointments whereby formal qualifications and traditional work experience will form only one element. Non-traditional activities and career paths are recognised and valued as suitable qualifications which contribute to an individual's overall suitability for appointment.
- Where the Minister intends to recommend supporting an individual not recommended by the nomination panel, the Minister must write to the Prime Minister setting out his/her reasons. If approved by the Prime Minister, and subsequently by the Governor-General, the Minister must table a statement of reasons to both Houses of Parliament within 15 sitting days of the announcement of the appointment.
- Where the appointment is that of the chair of the ABC board, the successful candidate will be selected by the Prime Minister, in consultation with the Minister, from a shortlist supplied by the nomination panel. The Prime Minister will consult with the Leader of the Opposition before making a recommendation to the Governor-General.
- Where the Prime Minister intends to recommend to the Governor-General an individual not recommended by the nomination panel for the chair of the ABC board, the Prime Minister must table a statement of reasons to both Houses of Parliament within 15 sitting days of the announcement of the appointment.
- All appointments will be made for a period of up to five years. Non-executive directors of the ABC and SBS boards will be eligible for a total maximum appointment of 10 years.
- The principles of equal opportunity and diversity will be followed throughout the selection process. In particular, consideration will be given to ensuring that the membership of the boards encompasses diversity in gender and geographical representation.
A copy of the complete policy and guidelines for merit-based appointments to the ABC and SBS boards is included in the expression of interest information kitpage, which will be accessible at the time an appointment round is announced.
Former politicians and senior political staff
The following persons are not eligible for appointment as a non-executive director on the ABC or SBS Board:
- a member or former member of the Parliament of the Commonwealth or a State, or a member or former member of the Legislative Assembly of the ACT or the Northern Territory.
- a person who is or was a senior political staff member.
This provision applies for a period of twelve months after the person ceased to be a member of the Parliament or Legislative Assembly or a senior political staff member.