MEAA says ABC staff ‘have lost confidence’ in managing director

The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) says ABC staff “have lost confidence” in David Anderson, after union members at the public broadcaster passed a vote of no confidence in the managing director.

The MEAA says the vote was passed “overwhelmingly” at an online meeting attended by over 200 members, who believe Anderson has failed “to defend the integrity of the ABC and its staff from outside attacks”.

The news comes after it was revealed today that ABC is looking to have Antoinette Lattouf’s unlawful termination case dismissed on the basis that it did not terminate her employment.

Lattouf’s lawyer Josh Bornstein was advised by the public broadcaster on 18 January that Lattouf was not entitled to make an unlawful termination application to the Fair Work Commission as she had not been sacked.

Meanwhile, last November, staff at triple j faced disciplinary action over a pro-Palestine monologue from hip hop artist Miss Kaninna, following an investigation from the ABC Ombudsman.

ABC’s Justin Stevens warned against sharing opinions that may bring into question their impartiality, after a significant number of the broadcaster’s editorial staff signed an open letter calling for more ethical coverage of the conflict in Gaza.

“The message from staff today is clear and simple: David Anderson must demonstrate that he will take the necessary steps to win back the confidence of staff and the trust of the Australian public,” acting Chief Executive of MEAA, Adam Portelli, said today.

“This is the result of a consistent pattern of behaviour by management when the ABC is under attack of buckling to outside pressure and leaving staff high and dry.

“Public trust in the ABC is being undermined. The organisation’s reputation for frank and fearless journalism is being damaged by management’s repeated lack of support for its staff when they are under attack from outside.

“Journalists at the ABC – particularly First Nations people, and people from culturally diverse backgrounds – increasingly don’t feel safe at work; and the progress that has been made in diversifying the ABC has gone backwards.

“Management needs to act quickly to win that confidence back by putting the integrity of the ABC’s journalism above the impact of pressure from politicians, unaccountable lobby groups and big business.”

The MEAA has said that if Anderson does not act on the “current crisis” by January 29, staff will “consider further action”.

In a statement issued today, Anderson said he is proud of the ABC’s journalism and its journalists.

“As ABC Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief I have always defended the ABC’s journalism. I have worked hard to stand by the ABC’s journalists and ensure they are protected from punitive behaviour that would hinder their work and ultimately affect the independence of the ABC – whether that be from AFP raids, political pressure, powerful organisations or lobby groups,” the statement reads.

It continues: “I have listened to and heard the concerns of members of staff and I will meet with them in the coming weeks.

“As I said in my statement last week, the ABC rejects any claim that it has been influenced by any external pressure.”

The full statement can be viewed here.

Read the full motion passed by MEAA members at today’s meeting below:

MEAA members at the ABC have lost confidence in our managing director David Anderson. Our leaders have consistently failed to protect our ABC’s independence or protect staff when they are attacked. They have consistently refused to work collaboratively with staff to uphold the standards that the Australian public need and expect of their ABC.

Winning staff and public confidence back will require senior management:

1. Backing journalism without fear or favour.
2. Working collaboratively with unions to build a culturally informed process for supporting staff who face criticism and attack.
3. Take urgent action on the lack of security and inequality that journalists of colour face.
4. Working with unions to develop a clearer and fairer social media policy.
5. Upholding a transparent complaints process, in which journalists who are subject to complaints are informed and supported.


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