Ita Buttrose’s Replacement As ABC Chair Revealed As Ex News Limited CEO Kim Williams

Former News Limited CEO Kim Williams has been announced as Ita Buttrose‘s replacement as the new ABC Chair, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has announced.

Albo made the announcement at a press conference on Wednesday morning, alongside Communications Minister Michelle Rowland.

The announcement comes just one day after the ABC Board held an emergency meeting to discuss the ongoing legal battle against journalist Antoinette Lattouf.

The Board shared that the ABC has rejected the claims and will be defending their case.

Williams — who has held multiple roles in Aussie media and arts organisations — was nominated by an independent panel and will be appointed for five years.

At the press conference, Albo said Williams was “a perfect fit for the role”. 

“He is as much at home running media companies as he is running arts organisations and, indeed, a former AFL Commissioner, so engaged in sport as well,” Albo said. 

“Kim is a true renaissance man. The breadth of his experience is matched by its depth and his intellect, his energy, and his insatiable curiosity of all men that he’s been able to devote himself to a great diversity of passions.”

Rowland then gave a shoutout to Buttrose.

“Ms Buttrose is a giant of the media and business worlds,” she said. 

“She has shown steady leadership for five years. She’s maintained a strong defence of the ABC’s independence.

“She was the right chair for the right time.”

It comes at a tricky time for the ABC, after MEAA staffers passed a vote of no confidence on Monday concerning Managing Director David Anderson‘s leadership.

It also comes after PEDESTRIAN.TV revealed a secret WhatsApp chat lobbied the ABC to fire Lattouf, with at least one member of the chat claiming to have received confirmation from Buttrose herself. “I just got an email at 5.42 from Ita Buttrose in response to my letter to [sic] ABC that ‘Lattouf no longer works at the ABC’,” one woman shared to the chat on December 20, the same day Lattouf was fired.

Yesterday the ABC board passed a unanimous vote of confidence in Anderson.

“It is abhorrent and incorrect that people would suggest that he has shown a lack of support for independent journalism and journalists,” Buttrose shared in a statement yesterday.

David Anderson has always been a strong supporter of the independence of the ABC and its journalists. He has encouraged them to report without fear or favour and has never weakly surrendered to criticism as some critics have alleged.

“The ABC regularly receives, and responds to, complaints from individuals or organisations and the assumption that either the Managing Director as Editor-in-Chief or I would be influenced by any sort of lobbying pressure is quite simply wrong.

“The Board, including the Managing Director, recognise that this is a very difficult environment for our staff with many societal issues that threaten to divide us. We will continue to prioritise actions that support our staff, ensure our journalistic independence, and protect the trust that Australians place in the ABC.”

Buttrose is set to step down at the end of her term in March.

Editor’s note: an earlier version of this story incorrectly said the ABC board voted no confidence in David Anderson. PEDESTRIAN.TV regrets the error.