Cross-post: Roger Franklin – Their ABC Wants You. Apply Today!

The old joke is that ABC stands for “all but conservatives”. Well here’s the chance to change that by applying to fill one of the vacancies on the broadcaster’s Advisory Council. There are no guarantees, of course, but a smattering of Quadrant/Catallaxy readers might just make for interesting meetings

Quick, if you yearn for the ABC to do a better job, you have only until tomorrow to offer a helping hand! That is when applications close to fill the four vacant seats on the national broadcaster’s Advisory Council – and going by the current members, a bit of genuine diversity would not go astray.

Never heard of the Council? No surprise there.

Although established in 1983, its achievements have been of the rubber-stamp variety, despite a brief that mandates a duty to

write up Community Notes reflecting discussions with the public and Program Notes which summarise your views of the ABC programs, services and any other aspect of ABC product in preparation for meeting discussions.

That would seem an invitation to be frank and forthright in praising the things the ABC does well, and criticise what it does badly or should not be doing at all. Yet if we are go by the Advisory Council’s semi-regular bulletins to the ABC Board, no member has ever seen or heard a single programme that raised the slightest cause for concern, nor was ever troubled by anything else about the way the broadcaster goes about its business.

The perception of widespread nepotism? Nope, not a word about the remarkable number of spouses and partners drawing nice salaries on the same ABC bank account. Virginia Trioli’s hubby, Russell Skelton, a scold of conservatives, fled the dying Age for a secure new gig atop the ABC’s Fact Check unit, but his arrival piqued the Council’s interest not at all. Even a person of minimal curiosity might have wondered about the selection process: How many applicants? Who did the choosing? Shouldn’t all hiring be subject to independent review by outside auditors? You know, those sorts of questions. But no, the Council expressed not the slightest interest in this or any other big-ticket additions to the ABC payroll.

How are production contracts awarded and to what end? No Council interest there either, which is very curious in the case of The Chaser. Produced by a private company for a large and undisclosed sum, the show outraged propriety in 2009 by making infamous fun of children suffering from cancer. Even ABC Managing Director Mark Scott felt obliged to “unreservedly apologise”, promising that the broadcaster would be pulling up its socks, observing its own editorial guidelines and, in the words of the man who ordained himself “editor-in-chief”, pondering “those processes around comedy that’s edgy and satirical.”

Click here to lodge your application
for a gig with the ABC Advisory Council

Four years later, with no interruption of payments to the show’s production company, Chaser spinoffThe Hamster Wheel depicted conservative columnist and ABC critic Chris Kenny having sex with a dog. The cancer-kids review apparently had come to nought, as Scott was obliged (eventually) to issue one more apology for that further outrage. Not that The Chaser crew were out of pocket. Those cheques and contracts kept right on coming even as the ABC paid a pretty penny for lawyers to argue in court that it had done nothing wrong and that Kenny — a grumpy sort, presumably, who cannot take a joke – had no right to redress. Eventually, the broadcaster did apologise, but that drawn-out defence of the indefensible also passed without Council comment.

This came as no surprise. In 2009, when The Chaser was giving dying children a bit of that “edgy and satirical” schtick,  its interest in comedy (and has-beens) was limited to praise for Clark and Dawe:

The ABC Advisory Council commends John Clark and Brian Dawe for their astute humour, effective through its simplicity, in providing a light juxtaposition to the serious intent of the 7.30 Report each week.

That same year, the Council was also dead keen on ABC Arts coverage, opining

The Advisory Council commends the ABC for its increased coverage of the Australian arts scene in all its forms. The Council feels that every State in Australia is well represented. Innovative television and online programs such as Artscape, Sunday Arts, Painting Australia and Artpost support emerging and alternative Australian arts.  

As an indication of the Council’s worth, the above endorsement is instructive.  Two years later, the ABC scrapped in-house arts coverage, contracting the brief to outside production houses.

Quadrant Online or Catallaxy readers who fancy filling those Council vacancies and contributing to its deliberations will find the body’s collected and collective enthusiasm for everything the ABC does most instructive. Its “Recommendations and Commendations” through the years are assembled here– although not a trace of activity can be found for the current year. This should be taken, perhaps, as a further indication of the seriousness with which the Council’s views are received in Scott’s office and elsewhere.

abc advisory council

The limited breadth and diversity of the Council’s current membership might explain why it is so easy to ignore. When it speaks, it is in the monotone of those whose careers seem to have been cut from remarkably similar cloth. The current Council, pictured above, is astonishingly heavy with those who concern themselves with matters Indigenous. Of the 12 members, fully half are connected in one way or another with the promotion of Aboriginal concerns. Tertiary institutions are also heavily represented, as is the compassion-industrial complex.

All current members and their biographies can be found here, on a webpage that raises an interesting question: Where are the panel beaters and plumbers, the secretaries and salespeople, those for whom the focus of life and career is neither the university common room nor offices dedicated to pursuing grants and promoting social justice? Such people also watch and listen to the ABC, yet members of the productive economy, with one or two qualified exceptions, are absent from this allegedly “representative” panel.

This where public-spirited individuals might see an opportunity to lend the Council, and through it the ABC, the benefit of a broader perspective. It would make for interesting meetings if some of the seats were to be occupied by members prepared to make waves, to demand explanations for programming and hiring decisions, to venture opinions of the national broadcaster other than in terms of delirious enthusiasm for all that is put to air. The Board is under no obligation to heed the Council’s views, but putting dissident perspectives on the record would least pay the truth the courtesy of a mention.

So if you want to help broaden the ABC’s horizons, click here to lodge your application form with all its key  questions about your Indigenous status, your disabilities, ethnic background and grasp of English.

But do hurry. Nominations close tomorrow, October 16.

Roger Franklin is the editor of Quadrant Online

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54 Responses to Cross-post: Roger Franklin – Their ABC Wants You. Apply Today!

  1. Rabz

    The current Council, pictured above, is astonishingly heavy with those who concern themselves with matters Indigenous.

    That’s bleedingly obvious looking at that photo.

  2. Gertrude

    Finalists for Australia’s Got No Talent.

  3. jc

    The one at the back with the dark curly hair isn’t a bad looker.

  4. H B Bear

    The perception of widespread nepotism? Nope, not a word about the remarkable number of spouses and partners drawing nice salaries on the same ABC bank account.

    The level in-breeding around the staff co-op water cooler makes rural Tasmania seem like a genetic hot spot.

    Another thing the ALPBC might like to look at is the “Hotel California” syndrome, you can check-out but never leave. Given the number of on-air staff that have been there for decades there is a strong argument that salaries are excessive. There has never been a time where media job security from compulsory taxpayer funding has been so valuable. They had to prise Quentin Dempster out of the place like a limpet off a rock after 30 years and he is no Robinson Crusoe.

  5. H B Bear

    How are production contracts awarded and to what end? No Council interest there either, which is very curious in the case of The Chaser.

    Awarding private contracts to ALPBC mates is a great little earner. Just ask Red Kezza who doesn’t let his Left wing sensitivities stop him having a dip at private enterprise when there is a dollar in it, for him of course.

  6. H B Bear

    It’s lucky this collection of mouth breathers “… commends John Clark and Brian Dawe for their astute humour, effective through its simplicity, … ” as they are doing the same tired stuff six years later.

  7. Robert Crew

    The SA representative, Marilyn Cadzow (the one in the middle) should be fine. I’ve known her son for many years and he is a fine young Conservative man – I believe he still works for/with the Liberal Party’s Federal Secretariat in Canberra on their digital platforms. From what I have seen they are a highly entrepreneurial and charitable family, particularly by SA standards.

  8. Myrddin Seren

    I can see Velma, but not sure where Scooby Doo is hiding ?

  9. thefrollickingmole


  10. Myrddin Seren


    What courage – you will be pretty much required to watch, listen to and read #TheirABC. You are a braver mole than me !

  11. Baldrick

    Where do these people hold their meetings? The ABC canteen?

  12. H B Bear

    I can see Velma, but not sure where Scooby Doo is hiding ?

    The irony of a public broadcaster paying private firms to produce series parodying your advisory committee members must be lost on Mark Scott.

  13. thefrollickingmole

    you will be pretty much required to watch, listen to and read #TheirABC

    Where I live thats pretty close to it, we get the “Vast” network, which is every states version of ABC+SBS+ 3 free to air things.

    One of my suggestions might be along the lines of “in what dimension does it make sense to program the same shows on differing nights around Australia?
    Another would be “what void do you think the repeating of Jimmy Kimmel and the ‘late night show’ is filling in Australia?
    Also those bios seem to indicate people with a lot of spare time.

  14. Zyconoclast

    The current Council, pictured above, is astonishingly heavy with those who concern themselves with matters Indigenous.

    That’s bleedingly obvious looking at that photo.

    No, it’s just heavy

  15. MAGB

    ” providing a light juxtaposition to the serious intent of the 7.30 Report each week.” The only serious intent of this program is to aggressively chase the Women’s Weekly demographic. The producer is surely a qualified and enthusiastic social worker.

  16. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    From Sinclair:

    “The current Council, pictured above, is astonishingly heavy …”

    then from Baldrick at 4:02 pm:

    “Where do these people hold their meetings? The ABC canteen?”

    My reaction was the same, but less subtle … “Gees those sheilas in the front row are fat!” … then I discovered why. Part of the job description is:

    “write up … Program Notes which summarise your views of the ABC programs”

    They slouch on the lounge all day, attended by a bowl of potato chips and soft drink, while they watch Their ABC and their brains turn to porridge. Then they struggle to their feet and waddle off to their meetings at the ABC Canteen to talk earnestly together about “juxtapositions”.

    Father and son, up in the top left, would be part of the aborigine lobby – all shiny and bright, comfortable in the belief that all peoples everywhere are fundamentally good peopleses. I’ll warrant they’ve never visited Wadeye or Aurukun for an overnight stay.

  17. notafan

    Someone in the US told me how much they were enjoying ‘Dreamland’ which I realised from the description was Utopia which Working Dogs has sold to Netflix.
    I saw the following quote in the SMH from 2 Oct 2014. I fail to see the connection. Working Dog could not not sell Utopia to a commercial station in Australia? What is the deal with this type of contract anyhow? Or are those who get ABC contracts operating on a can’t lose basis.

    Another issue I have with the ABC and SBS is how often content has also been funded by Federal and State Government ‘Arts’ grants. I call that double dipping which should be added to the total that is seen as taxpayer funding for the ABC etc

    But taking a moment to survey the bigger picture, it seems reasonable to note that Utopia has worked its particular form of magic at a time when the ABC alone seems to possess the will to invest in local narrative comedies. One can only fear what the impending budget cuts to the national broadcaster may do to this already under-nourished area. But it’s a good bet that the consequences are unlikely to give us much to laugh about.

    Read more:
    Follow us: @smh on Twitter | sydneymorningherald on Facebook

    utopia in the US

  18. PeterF

    Why would anyone state their small business experience,but not nominate in what area.Most of their small business experience seems to be with

  19. James of the Glen

    What a marvellous collection of good-doers..

  20. Splatacrobat

    30. What are your main reasons for wanting to join the ABC Advisory Council?

    To adjust the timbre of the echo chamber within the ABC with more conservative sounds.

  21. rickw

    I saw this flip up on the ABC about a month ago, I missed the web address so I went to their website and searched the hell out of it, surprisingly (or not) I couldn’t get any hits for it.

  22. thefrollickingmole

    Oh and in the application I strategically left out references to piles of skulls, salted earth and lamenting womenses, IE: The Rabz doctrine.
    I was however suitably vague about my ethnicity and past…

  23. Jannie

    It’s bad enough reading about the ABC. Watching it every day would be unthinkable.

  24. Robbo

    Only the ABC would offer a complete arsehole like Peter Norden a gig. He would be about as independent as only an ex Jesuit criminal lover could be. If you served on any board with him you would not want to turn your back to him.

  25. egg_

    Some heavyweights on that panel.

  26. Roger

    Another thing the ALPBC might like to look at is the “Hotel California” syndrome, you can check-out but never leave.

    Another case in point: Clarke & Dawe.

    Astonishingly unfunny but politically righteous by inner city standards, they seem to have been hanging around the ABC since the late 1980s.

  27. duncanm

    Where are the panel beaters and plumbers, the secretaries and salespeople, those for whom the focus of life and career is neither the university common room nor offices dedicated to pursuing grants and promoting social justice? who actually pay for all this shit


    Cadzow, and the actor (borderline) appear to be the only ones who actually contribute any net funds to the ABC.

  28. Entropy

    Dear ANC,
    I wish to apply for a position on the ABC Advisory Council.
    I wear birkensocks everyday on the way to the local fresh food farmers market to buy my organic mungbeans. I am vegan of course, and if I was a woman ( I am Cisgender, btw) I would have Malcolm Turnbull’s baby, because I believe he is the One To Bring Balance to Australian politics. I just didn’t like that mean Abbott beast. I can’t explain why, I just didn’t like him. Maybe because he was mean to all those poor, kindly and peaceful refugees that belong to the religion of peace that found those kindly helpful boat owners in Indonesia to help them escape Indonesian persecution, and he wrecked our great relationship with Indonesia by not going to war with it over capital punishment, and spied on them. And he destroyed the Prime Ministership of Julia Gillard, our first woman Prime Minister, not that gender matters, but he got her kicked out despite the great job she was doing, because she was a woman! There is misogyny everywhere you see it, as you can tell after a quick look at the Macquarie Dictionary! Can you believe it? Also I think Abbott didn’t like Obama, who is very good looking and is an excellent speaker to listen to while having a calming camomile tea.

    Anyway, I have attached my CV which shows my qualification in gender studies, journalism studies and political studies, as well as my half completed studies in environmental management studies. I am struggling on the dole at the moment and as I can’t get a job for some reason I am thinking of enrolling in marine environmental studies, which I understand has better prospects than my previous qualifications.

    My hobbies are basket weaving, animal welfare activism and camping with my friends at evil fossil fuel developments which are destroying our pristine farmland, owned by lovely people I normally hate because they use chemicals and GM crops, and inject growth hormones in their chooks, but are better at least than miners, who live down the end of the street and have a large boat and a dual cab with an noisy ugly trail bike in the back. Suckers have so lost their job since we killed off the Aldani mine. Oh, wait. See, that’s why we need my voice.

    I am totally against racism which is why I have joined the BDS movement and against anyone in self employment as they are all thieves, as I learned after joining Socilist Alliance.

    As you can see I am amply qualified to have a role on the ABC Advisory Council. All too often people like don’t have a voice and it is important that Australia’s largest media outfit should also hear my voice. Because my voice is unique. My voice. Yes. My referees are Peter Singer and Julian Burnside. Please send an appointment letter to the above Balmain address.

  29. Nah. Just sell the bludger of thing to a commercial interest. If advertisers think the giggly man-boy comedians, groupthinky audiences and preachy convent girl presenters are a real seller…good luck to them all!

    But sell. Sell Big Smug.

  30. Entropy: That is one of the best CV’s that I have ever seen.
    You’ll go a long way!

  31. AP

    Apparently one of these people is aboriginal!?

    It looks like a staff photo of my local Centrelink office.

  32. Marcus Classis

    What’s this gig pay?

  33. Y

    I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a repellent group of individuals in my life.

    Hats off to the ABC Comedy team for this transgressive satire!

  34. hzhousewife

    ent, you forgot to tell them you are a muzzie, but I suppose you didny want an unfair advantage.
    Haven’t laughed so much for ages, brilliant work.

  35. Y

    Looks like the cast of Last of the Summer Wine finally got their Women’s Studies degrees.

  36. Apparently one of these people is aboriginal!?

    At least Three of them identify as “indigenous” Australian.
    Good luck working out which three.

  37. Entropy

    Oh Gaia, I forgot my postgrad diploma in womyn’s studies!

  38. Muddy

    It’s a shame that on such a serious subject many return to their base instincts and put people down simply due to their… shite-awful propaganda shot wherein they are captured then and forever wearing a red cardy with a brown skirt. Are you kidding me? Even with a dodgy ‘k’ on my heyboard I can see how poor the security must have been at this komplex! Surely we the taxpayer owe it to these fine community members to engage a stylist for each of them?

  39. duncanm

    not very hard to Spot Wally in there, despite the fact he’s not wearing his stripy beannie.

  40. robbo

    Hell no I wouldn’t apply. Life’s too short to spend with those drop kicks. No time for that shite.

    Yet, good luck to any catallaxians out there who wanna give it a go, but you know you’d be wasting yer energy. I am, just reading about them.

  41. Habib

    Surely no-one honestly believes a non-luvvie could get themselves selected into this echo chamber of monopausal marxist mouth breathers. That said, lefties are extremely gullible, and highly suceptable to a line of the Ern Malley/Helen Demidenko/Aelene Composta schtick, give them every victim stereotype and sense of perpetual outrage over whatever cause du jour is the source of current frothing.

    If I had time, it’d be worth a tilt for shits and giggles, even moreso being stuck in a room with this increadibly whitebread pack of Getup geriatrics, causing conniptions by expressing normal opinions on issues, and subjecting ABC product to well deserved and long overdue criticism.

  42. Diogenes

    Geez, if Motelier were to post a picture of the groups of attending “workshops” for charities that he hosts in his establishment I am certain it would look like this group.

    Lots of head tilting as well.

  43. Their ABC whinges about the $250 million cut, so closes some regional services, for which this monolith was originally intended. What remains is a plethora of pathetic funded productions masquerading as “comedy” and absolutely tasteless show “Please Like Me”, which would be hounded from commercial media. No value at all to the everyday Australian, except to massage someone’s monumental ego.

  44. Boambee John


    If I recall correctly, most of the $250m was payment for providing the broadcasts into Asia, a function that (with its funding) was removed from Their ABC.

    They are bleating about not being paid for not doing something, but then again “being paid for not doing something” is what they do!

  45. Major Elvis Newton

    I applied as a disabled lesbian of mixed Lebanese and Aboriginal heritage (my mum’s great-great grandmother was a Whothafukru elder. My Dad was a war refugee who came to Australia in the mid-70’s. He’s currently in Goulburn SuperMax with two of my half brothers and a cousin on some ridiculous drug importation and terrorism-related charges. Their lawyer, Greg Barns, says the charges are bogus).

    In my application I mentioned I was in my tenth year of completing my PhD thesis in Gender Studies on “Being LGBTIQ under Sharia” and I proudly wear “myABC” allegiance like a second skin. I would also be available to critically review myABC content pretty much 24/7.

    As a Council member I felt I could speak to the whole womyn-gay-black-muslim-refugee-single parent engagement experience which is largely unspoken of and sadly underrepresented in the Australian media landscape.

    My referees included Ruby Hamad and Clem Ford so I think I stand a pretty good chance.


  46. Des Deskperson

    ‘What’s this gig pay?’

    According to Rem Tribunal det 2015/01:

    $717 per day for the Convener and $686 per day for the members. they meet for 7-8 days a year, so $5700 pa for the convener and about $5,100 for members

    They get business class travel and a travel allowance. The allowance for overnight in Sydney is $397.

    This is actually quite generous, given my understanding of what they actually do. While we should be wary of direct comparisons between daily rates and annual salaries, the members’ rates extrapolated, to an annual salary, would come out at about $170,000 pa, something none of these bozos could ever expect to earn in the real world.

  47. duncanm

    fork me – there’s a saving of $20k per annum just there.

    Replace them with a mirror in Mark Scott’s office.

  48. DrBeauGan

    Apart from the microscopic chance of finding myself talking to entropy or major elvis, it is pretty certain that the company would be unspeakable. So no thanks.

  49. Myrddin Seren

    Woo Hoo !

    Tim Blair reads the Cat !!

    Cheers Tim – you have made my day 🙂

  50. Denise

    Save for two people in that photo, everyone looks as if the lunch menu each day is a barrel of KF Pork..

  51. Siltstone


    After that CV it would be quite possible that Marxist Scott will draft you to be his replacement as Managing Director of the ABC.

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